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Sir Frank Brangwyn

Welsh, 1867 - 1956

Frank Brangwyn was a versatile artist who created oil paintings, watercolours, large scale murals, etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs as well as designing stained glass, furniture, carpets, ceramics and jewellery. It is estimated that he produced over 12,000 works during his lifetime.

Brangwyn was the son of a Welsh church architect who operated a workshop for ecclesiastical furnishings in Bruges, Belgium where Brangwyn was born. In 1875 Brangwyn relocated to London with his family and practiced drawing at the Victoria and Albert Museum. From 1882-1884 he worked in the workshop of artist and designer William Morris and in 1885 had his first painting exhibited at the Royal Academy. Initially Brangwyn painted traditional subjects about the sea and life on the seas. By the late 19th century 'Orientalism' had become a favoured theme for many painters. In 1888, Brangwyn, attracted by the light and vivid colours of Asia, travelled to Istanbul and the Black Sea, working as a deck hand to pay his passage. His body of work includes many paintings and drawings of Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey.

Brangwyn produced book illustrations, commercial posters and in 1892 became a designer for the British publication The Graphic. In 1895 Brangwyn travelled to Paris where he became an active champion of the Art Nouveau movement. He began introducing the sinuous lines characteristic of Art Nouveau into his paintings of galleons and shipping scenes. During World War I Brangwyn was an official war artist. He remains perhaps, best known for his large mural cycles, such as those for the Royal Exchange (1906), for Skinners Hall (1909) and for the ship EMPRESS OF BRITAIN (a Royal Mail liner), which sank during World War II taking Brangwyn’s murals with it.