Artist biography

English painter and graphic artist. Largely self-taught, he helped his father, William Brangwyn, who was an ecclesiastical architect and textile designer in Bruges. After his family moved to England in 1875 Brangwyn entered the South Kensington Art Schools and from 1882 to 1884 worked for William Morris.

Brangwyn's plein-air work in Cornwall from 1884 to 1888 resulted in a series of oils, exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of British Artists, London, in which the subdued tones indicate the influences of Whistler and the Newlyn school.

The earthquake of 1910 in Messina, Sicily, inspired a notable series of watercolours, while in etching, which he had begun in 1904, he evolved a monumental style using strong chiaroscuro. Industry, shipping and contemporary London and Venice were favourite theme, lithographs, war posters, and pageant, scenery and architectural designs.

From 1924 Brangwyn was occupied with what he regarded as the culmination of his life's work, for panels for the Royal Gallery in the House of Lords. These were rejected by the Lords as being too flamboyant. On completion in 1933 they were purchased for the Guildhall, Swansea: they are still in situ.

After his murals of 1930–34 for the Rockefeller Center, New York, he devoted himself to religious art. Brangwyn paid little regard to contemporary developments in art and in his later years lived virtually as a recluse at Ditchling, where he had settled in 1918.

DNB; Thieme–Becker
W. S. Sparrow: Frank Brangwyn and his Work (London, 1910)
——: Prints and Drawings by Frank Brangwyn (London, 1919)
H. Furst: The Decorative Art of Frank Brangwyn, RA (London, 1924)
Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Etchings by Frank Brangwyn, RA (exh. cat., London, 184 Queen's Gate, 1924) [exh. organized by Barbizon House]
M. S. Salaman: Modern Masters of Etching, No. 1: Frank Brangwyn, RA (London, 1925)
W. Gaunt: The Etchings of Frank Brangwyn, RA (London, 1926)
M. S. Salaman: Modern Masters of Etching, No. 30: Frank Brangwyn, RA (London, 1932)
F. Rutter: The British Empire Panels by Frank Brangwyn, RA (Leigh-on-Sea, 1937)
Works by Sir Frank Brangwyn (exh. cat., London, RA, 1952)
C. Bunt: The Watercolours of Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA (Leigh-on-Sea, 1958)
V. Galloway: The Oils and Murals of Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA (Leigh-on-Sea, 1962)
J. Boyd: The Drawings of Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA (Leigh-on-Sea, 1967)
Frank Brangwyn Centenary (exh. cat., Cardiff, Welsh A. C., 1967)
Catalogue of the Works of Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA, 1867–1956, London, William Morris Gal. cat. (Walthamstow, 1974)
R. Brangwyn: Brangwyn (London, 1978)
The Art of Frank Brangwyn (exh. cat. by J. Freeman, Brighton Poly.; London, F.A. Soc.; 1980)
D. Marechal: Collectie Frank Brangwyn, Bruges, Brangwynmus. cat. (Bruges, 1987)
C. A. P. Willsdon: Mural Painting in Britain, 1840–1940 (Oxford, in preparation)


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