The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Frank Brangwyn, 1867-1943

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1867.05.13
Place of Birth: Bruges
Date of Death: 1943
Place of Death: England


Sir Frank Brangwyn was a painter, watercolourist, muralist, etcher and lithographer. His father William Brangwyn was an ecclesiastical architect and textile designer in Bruges.


Brangwyn was initially self-taught. However, after his family moved to England in 1875 he entered the South Kensington Art Schools and from 1882 to 1884 worked for William Morris. His works, executed en plein-air in Cornwall from 1884, show the influence of JW in their subdued tonality, e.g. Hope of Rescue (1894; Private Collection). Like JW, he was also interested in the exotic, and travelled to the Near East and South Africa in the early 1890s. David Croal Thomson, writing to JW in 1893, admired Brangwyn's A Slave Market (1892; Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport) [#5775]. Brangwyn also visited Venice in 1896 where he came under the influence of the art of Titian and Veronese.

Brangwyn was also active as an illustrator and muralist. His series of historical panels for Skinners' Hall in London (1901-9) won his election as ARA in 1904. At this date he also began etching, depicting industrial and shipping scenes of contemporary London with a monumental style and strong chiaroscuro, e.g. S Maria della Salute (1908). He also designed lithographs, war posters, theatrical scenery, furniture, ceramics and architectural decorations.

Brangwyn exhibited from 1885 at the Royal Academy, Fine Art Society, Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, New English Art Club, Society of British Artists and Goupil Gallery. He held his first one-man exhibition in 1891. The year previous he joined the membership of the Royal Society of British Artists, a society that had received a royal charter under JW's Presidency from 1886 to 1888. Brangwyn subsequently became President in 1913.

Brangwyn was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1893, an associate of the Royal Academy in 1904, becoming a full member in 1919, and an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1904, attaining full membership in 1907. He also held honorary memberships at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1914 and Royal Miniature Society from 1918. In 1917 he was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours and in 1921 became an associate of the Royal Water Colour Society. In this year he also became President of the Society of Graphic Artists. He was knighted in 1941.


Sparrow, W. S., Frank Brangwyn and his Work, London, 1910; Furst, H., The Decorative Art of Frank Brangwyn, R.A., London, 1924; Gaunt, W., The Etchings of Frank Brangwyn, R.A., London, 1926; Bunt, C., The Watercolours of Sir Frank Brangwyn, R.A., Leigh-on-Sea, 1958; Galloway, V., The Oils and Murals of Sir Frank Brangwyn, R.A., Leigh-on-Sea, 1962; Boyd, J., The Drawings of Sir Frank Brangwyn, R.A., Leigh-on-Sea, 1967; Catalogue of the Works of Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA, 1867-1956, Walthamstow, 1974; Brangwyn, R., Brangwyn, London, 1978; Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J. and A. Greutzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; McConkey, Kenneth, Memory and Desire: Painting in Britain and Ireland at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London, 2002; Willsdon, Clare A. P., 'Frank Brangwyn', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 21 March 2003).