Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956)   BIOGRAPHY

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ABCDE Association Belge (X645), 1910,
Framed (ref: 454)
The original lithographic plate
9 x 7 in. (23 x 18 cm.) 


Provenance: Count William de Belleroche

Exh: The Old Matsukata Collection, Kobe, Japan, 1989, Cat B-21(and Ill). Lit and Ill:Marechal, Frank Brangwyn: Collection Catalogue, Bruges, 1987, p190. According to Marechal the plate was made for the 'Association belge des Ex-Libris' of the Musee du Livre, Brussels.

Brangwyn designed over 130 bookplates for friends and colleagues both in the UK and abroad (notably France and Italy), the light-hearted designs being a pun on the owner’s name or apparently relating to the owner’s occupation or interest, although the meaning of some remains obscure.  The ex-libris were produced in a variety of media – as etchings, woodcuts and lithographs.  Many, but not all, were reproduced in Bookplates by Frank Brangwyn RA, compiled by E Hesketh Hubbard and Eden Phillpotts in 1920.

When one considers the volume and large scale of work Brangwyn was commissioned to produce, it is delightful to discover that he was prepared to spend time working on small individual tokens for associates.  The craft probably appealed to Brangwyn because bookplates were considered at the time to be a product of democracy and afforded evidence of the spread of education.

The following selection of bookplates is placed in date order. The number in brackets following the title of each Brangwyn work indicates the number by which the work is identified in the Catalogue Raisonne.

We are grateful to Libby Horner for assistance.

Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956)

Frank Brangwyn was born in Bruges, Belgium, the son of an English father and Welsh mother. The family returned to London in 1874, Brangwyn's father gaining work as a designer of buildings, embroideries and furniture. Although Brangwyn appears to have had little formal education, whether academic or artistic, his earliest mentors were three of the most influential men in design at the turn of the century: Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, William Morris and Siegfried Bing. Between 1884 and 1887 Brangwyn travelled to Kent, Cornwall and Devon, before venturing further with trips to Turkey in 1888, South Africa in 1891, Spain in 1892 and Morocco in 1893. Brangwyn was an independent artist, an experimenter and innovator, capable of working on both large and small scale projects, ranging from murals, oil paintings, watercolours, etchings, woodcuts and lithographs to designs for architecture, interiors, stained glass, furniture, carpets, ceramics and jewellery, as well as book illustrations, bookplates and commercial posters. It is estimated that he produced over 12,000 works during his lifetime. Mural commissions included the Worshipful Company of Skinners, London (1902-09), St Aidan's church, Leeds (1908-16), Manitoba Legislative Building, Winnipeg, Canada (1918-21), Christ's Hospital, Horsham (1912-23), State Capitol, Jefferson City, USA (1915-25), the British Empire panels, Swansea (1925-32), and Rockefeller Center, New York (1930-34). Brangwyn married Lucy Ray in 1896 and took on the lease of Temple Lodge, Hammersmith, in 1900. In 1918 the artist purchased The Jointure, Ditchling, where he spent most of his time following his wife's death in 1924. Elected RA in 1919, knighted in 1924, holder of countless artistic awards, Brangwyn was modest about his singular achievements, regarding art as an occupation and describing himself as a designer.

See all works by Frank Brangwyn