Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956)   BIOGRAPHY

The Printed Word Makes the People of the World One, mural for the entrance hall of Odham Press, London, 1935-36
Framed (ref: 5478)

Oil on tempera canvas washed-in with tempera,
396.2 x 548.6 cm (156 x 216 in.)


Provenance: Odhams Press; Phillips on November 16, 1981, Lot 72; Mr. Drummond; Cider House Galleries; Dr Peter Gaunt; Christie’s, London, June 7, 1990, Lot 27; Lott & Gerrish; Robert Self; private collection Canada.

Exhibited: Japan c. 1976; Kaplan Gallery, London, 1975.

Literature: Galloway Vincent, The Oils and Murals of Frank Brangwyn 1867-1956, Leigh on Sea: F. Lewis, 1962, p75
Duffy Peter, ‘Frank Brangwyn and the curious incidence of art in the Tate’, p44, British Art Journal, Vol VIII, No 1
Ill: Gaunt William, ‘English Painting of Today’, The Studio, Vol 113, June 1937.

In 1935 Brangwyn was commissioned by Lord Southwood (who began life as J.S. Elias, a newspaper boy) to create a lunette decoration (about 180 sq ft) for the main entrance hall of Odham Press, Long Acre, London. Brangwyn’s design with its exotic vegetation, figures bearing baskets of fruit, wild birds and animals is reminiscent of his Empire Panels (1925-32), though additionally figures can be seen reading newspapers and books.
The building was demolished in 1973, but the lunette was saved and sold in auction (Philips on November 16, 1981, Lot 72).

According to Duffy it was offered to the Tate in 1977 and the response was: ‘Though it is certainly a very typical work, I am afraid that there is not much chance of our being interested in buying it.’ Tate 4/2/130/1. The painting was again offered in 1987 and the Tate internal memo read: ‘In theory we need this … but I find the picture rather ridiculous.’ Tate 4/2/130/1.

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.

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