Frank Brangwyn
(1867 - 1956)

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, original design for T N Foulis, circa 1910

£1,275.00

SKU: 10893

Indian ink

19 1/3 x 13 3/4 in. (49 x 35 cm)

Size:
Height – 49cm
Width – 35cm

1 in stock

DESCRIPTION

Brangwyn designed several versions of the Rub√°iy√°t of Omar Khayy√°m including two for T N Foulis, one in 1910 with with eight illustrations by Frank Brangwyn and a new edition was published 1919 with a further seven illustrations in addition to the original eight.

Other designs included the cover, title page and 5 colour illustrations for The  Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam published by  Gibbings & Co, in 1906.

Between 1890 and 1948 Brangwyn produced original illustrations for over 80 books. In his youth the impetus may have been financial – it was good bread and butter work. Many of the early illustrations were painted in grisaille on cheap board, involving minimal expense. It also has to be admitted that a large proportion of these early daubs are pretty dire – Brangwyn wasn’t about to waste time on such matters. And yet, at the same time, such work was a good means of advertising oneself.

Brangwyn’s interest in publishing improved in tandem with progress in reproduction. He gradually moved to painting illustrations in colour and these oils had a higher marketable value quite apart from the printing considerations. The compositions also improved, and he became an extremely knowledgeable and fastidious editor of reproductions of his own work.

In his prime Brangwyn had more than enough commissioned work to keep him busy but still kept illustrating books – perhaps he couldn’t resist the challenge. For example, in Illustrators, The British Art of Illustration 1800-1999, Seymour-Smith noted that Les Villes Tentaculaires was Verhaeren’s ‘most ruggedly powerful book of poetry. Although this ends with a statement of faith in science, it is a deeply pessimistic collection, a thrilled and hallucinatory account of the desecration of nature by machinery. This theme would present an appropriate challenge to Brangwyn, a negative counterpart to his vital imagery of man the worker, and his finished illustrations demonstrate how successfully he demonstrated it.’ Brangwyn was working, as modern parlance would put it, outside the box, outside his comfort zone, and yet captured the essence of Verhaeren’s work. Brangwyn could equally well illustrate a Christian theme, as in his Stations, published as The Way of the Cross. In the introduction G K Chesterton termed Brangwyn ‘the most masculine of modern men of genius’ and thought that he treated the work ‘very individually with things which many would now associate rather with a certain type of crystalline severity in the primitives; with the most awful austerity and renunciation, and with the secrets of a more than human sorrow’.

There were three other possible reasons Brangwyn continued to illustrate books, one charitable, the second a social conscience and the third an inability to refuse friends. The covers Brangwyn designed for Hugh Redwood’s books are a paradigm – the artist was persuaded by the Rev Arthur Hird, Editor of the Theological Literature Department of Hodder and Stoughton to participate and the books themselves were concerned with the work of the Salvation Army in the slums. Brangwyn also agreed to design the cover for William Bolitho’s book, Cancer of Empire, a social diatribe about living conditions in Glasgow. Other examples of charity: designs for the National Institute for the Blind were a gift, the profits from Land of my Fathers – A Welsh Gift Book went to the National Fund for Welsh Troops, royalties from Belgium went to the Belgian Relief Fund, the cover for Launch, A Lifeboat Book was a gift and the Queen’s Book of the Red Cross was sold in aid of the Lord Mayor of London’s fund for the Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

William Walcot was a friend and fellow artist and Brangwyn lodged the Walcot family in the Jointure Cottage for a few years. Walcot was a Shropshire man and probably persuaded Brangwyn to collaborate with him producing the privately published Pageant of Ludlow. In 1634 John Milton’s Comus was produced on Michaelmas night at Ludlow Castle, seat of the Earl of Bridgewater. To celebrate the tercentenary Shropshire held a revival of the Masque, and the book was produced to recall other conspicuous events in the county’s history. John Drinkwater, who wrote the introduction, considered the result ‘a portfolio in which artistic and historic interest make a distinguished contribution’. Brangwyn and Walcot also illustrated Nero and Modern Times.

As Brangwyn grew older his superstitious religious outlook dominated and he produced over 60 illustrations for a Life of St Francis (unpublished) and a number of small etchings for a Book of Job. In 1946 he wrote that he was filled ‘with pains, I am rather in the right mood to feel with Job and his misery’ and that he was ‘trying to finish the set of small etchings for the book of Job – very difficult as they are so small – I have before me a print of S Palmer to inspire me but I fail to understand how he did the fine work, and at the same time keep the bigness etc. – wonderful work’. Four months later he could announce ‘I have completed the set of little etchings for the book of Job. very poor stuff I fear. it is impossible for me to attempt to do them in a spirited way, such as old Blake, so they are just illustrations of camels, sheep and men and women of the east, such as one sees today and no doubt the same in the days of Job’. He was still concerned about this book two years later, fearing that the plates ‘will be bad. it is a great vanity on my part to attempt all this, and I wonder if one is not committing a sin doing this’.

We are grateful to Dr Libby Horner for the above text

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THE ARTIST

Brangwyn, Frank

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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On the Road to Jacca, circa 1948
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Making Sailors: Youthful Ambition c.1917
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Sketchbook, 1892
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The Prize Fight (or The Boxers), circa 1919
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War Bonds 2 (Back Him Up, Buy War Bonds) W1930, circa 1918
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Steam Train (Nocturn), circa 1910
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Soldier Drinking Wine from a Bottle – Study for the Manitoba Legislative Building, Winnipeg, 1921
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Mural study for St Aidan’s Leeds, a young girl with red hair, c. 1908-16
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Study for the Empire Panels in red chalk, circa 1925
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Harmony,, circa 1903, (M1139)
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Drapery Study for a Station of the Cross, circa 1933
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Study for central panel of Nativity window, St Mary the Virgin, Bucklebury, Berkshire, early 1920’s
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Study of Man Carrying Rifle, Study for Jefferson City
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Study of a Monk, full length three-quarter view, Study for St Aidan
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Figure study, Study for St Aidan
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Portrait of Jerome Esser?
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Man Singing, study for Christ’s Hospital, panel 7
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Studies for St Amand and St Eloi ‘ windows in the Abbey St Andr’, Bruges
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A Trader, Study for Selfridges
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Study of Figure with Vessel, study for Venice Biennale 1905
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Studies of a Kneeling and Seated Man
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Courtier, study for Panel 2, Skinners
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Studies for Man Playing Guitar
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Allegory of War and Industry
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Boy with Globe, study for panel 5, Skinners
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Man Carrying Child on His Back
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Loot, working proof
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Study for Harmony, Skinners, c.1908
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Man Playing Flute, study for panel 3, Skinners
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The 10th Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
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The 5th Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
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Girl with Bowl, after a design by Frank Brangwyn, (G2598),
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Signalling Happy New Year to a Sister ship, 1893
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The Three Kings, 1934
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Jesus Falls Below the Cross, 1916
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Working Men, study for Lloyds Register of Shipping
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The Printed Word Makes the People of the World One, mural for the entrance hall of Odham Press, London, 1935-36
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Bridge at Alcantara, Spain
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Study for Mans Ultimate Destiny, c. 1932
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The 2nd Station: Jesus Carries His Cross, c.1934
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The Mowers, 1912
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The Begging Musicians, 1930
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Ship Building, 1912
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Study for Man the Creator, circa 1932
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Susanna and the Elders, c 1908
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Study for Man the Master 1930-1934
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Ponte Rotto Rome, 1936
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King of the Seas – Raleigh, 1924
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Study for the Empire Panels, circa 1925
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Butchers Shop, 1904
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Stone Cutters, circa 1921
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Design for Thurstons for a Billiard Table, circa 1902
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Beer
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