Sir Frank Brangwyn, ARA
Illustration for Robert Southey's 'Life of Nelson' published by Gibbings & Co. (1911) illustrated as a chromolithograph plate and titled 'After Trafalgar'.
Frontispiece illustration for William Whall's 'Romance of Navigation' published by S Low Marston & Co (1925), frontispiece titled 'After Trafalgar'.
Oil on Artist's Board
Measuring 17 inches by 21 inches / 30 inches by 34 inches framed
In a superb 19thc ebonized Flemish-style ripple frame c1860
Shaw-Sparrow, W. "Prints & Drawings by Frank Brangwyn" John Lane, The Bodley Head, London (1919) p219.
As Mr. Shaw-Sparrow recounts, " in 1911, [Brangwyn] enriched and completed a very charming edition of Southey's Life of Nelson...several colour-plates, all from good blocks and well printed, we have seen already; but others are less familiar to Brangwyn's versatility..."An Italian Water Festival" is amusing as an extemporised pagaent, and also because of its contrast with "After Trafalgar" where imaginative fervour gathers with coming dusk and storm around crippled battleships, one of which has a fatefulness accordant with Nelson's death in victory" (p219).
On the reverse of Brangwyn's After Trafalgar we are offered a rare glimpse into the works history: firstly, the only known example of Brangwyn using the reverse of a work as his colouring palette, and secondly, pencil notations from the publisher of Southey's Life of Nelson detailing the receipt of the original work from Brangwyn as well as instructions to the lithographer on the colouring, sizing and print dates of the work.
Brangwyn eloquently captured the character of this work and it's unique interpretation of one of the most famous and beloved battles in the history of England, when he proposed that "Art is individuality added to Tradition".
Many thanks to Dr Libby Horner for her assistance in cataloguing this work.
Private Collection, Toronto Canada.
Sir Frank Brangwyn, ARA (Welsh, 1867-1956) 'After Trafalgar' c1911
According to Nigel Rhodes, "Frank Brangwyn is considered to be one of England's most talented artists - a muralist, oil painter, watercolorist, draughtsman, etcher, lithographer, wood engraver and designer of interiors, furniture, carpets, ceramics and stained glass. He had no formal art training but his natural abilities were recognized by William Morris to whom he became an apprentice at Queen Square, London 1882-1884. He exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy at 18 and during the 1890s produced book illustrations, which he continued to do throughout his life. In the 1900s Brangwyn began designing furniture, textiles, ceramics and other media. Though not an official World War I artist he gained repute through his posters, and was further recognized with an RA appointment (1919) and a knighthood (1941). Brangwyn was given a major retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy, the first time this honour had been accorded to a living artist. His paintings are often concerned with the dignity of human labor, and the working man and his love of architecture, ships and rural and Industrial buildings is evidenced in their inclusion in many of his works. He was awarded many commissions including from Tiffany's and the concourse of the RCA building in New York alongside Diego Rivera. His expressive, bold and vigorous style was recognized amongst his peers and public during the pre War years, his works depicting the War were received with much acclaim and as a part of this era of Modern British painting Frank Brangwyn's works are now sought after and well collected. Frank Brangwyn was a polymath, an artist-craftsman who created murals, oils and watercolors, furniture, textiles, ceramics, stained glass and prints.
Born to British parents in 1867 in Bruges, Brangwyn moved to London as a child. He lived in the capital for most of his life until moving to Ditchling, where he died in 1956. Brangwyn was internationally renowned during his life time, highly regarded in Avant-Garde circles and created an estimated 12,000 works. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and was the first artist to be given a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy during his lifetime. Brangwyn's murals were chosen for Siegfried Bing’s L'Art Nouveau in Paris, the Rockefeller Centre in New York and the Skinners Hall in London. Even in his own lifetime Brangwyn was controversial - regarded as a radical one minute, pilloried as an establishment figure the next. He never tried to conform and took pride in resisting trends. He was also unlucky; some of his most important commissions fell through and a key collection of his oils burned down. After his death his was ignored for half a century, but since 2006 the assessment of his work has been revived, leading to a number of important exhibitions and publications. Brangwyn briefly worked as an apprentice for Morris's workshop, enlarging designs and tracing drawings. Although he soon left to paint and travel, he shared Morris's believe that art should be available to all. When he heard of plans to establish a Gallery in Walthamstow, he donated a large part of his own art collection so that local people would "enjoy art and remember Morris". "An artist’s function is everything: he must be able to turn his hand to everything, for his Mission is to decorate life... he should be able to make pots and pans, doors and walls, monuments or cathedrals, carve, paint, and do everything asked of him." Frank Brangwyn, 1934 The William Morris Gallery holds the second largest collection of Brangwyn's work in England, after the British Museum. It includes oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, designs for stained glass, prints, furniture, a carpet, murals, books illustrated by Brangwyn, archival materials and personalia. Our first floor Brangwyn gallery displays a changing selection of his work. His works are held in collections all-over the world. The Arentshuis Museum in Bruges holds the largest collection of his work."