Sir Frank William Brangwyn, 1867 - 1956

Frank Brangwyn was an Anglo-Welsh artist, painter, water colourist, engraver, illustrator and designer. Besides his body of drawings, paintings, prints and posters, Brangwyn produced murals, pieces in wood, glassware, wallpaper, tapestry, ceramics and jewellery.

Frank Brangwyn was born in Bruges, Belgium to a Welsh mother and English father. In 1874 the family returned to England where Brangwyn’s father established a successful design practice.

Frank Brangwyn attended Westminster City School but spent more time in his father's workshop than at his studies. He also loved drawing in the South Kensington Museum, it was there that he met Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, (a progressive English architect and designer), who helped him secure an apprenticeship with William Morris. Under Morris’ direction, Brangwyn learned embroidery and wallpaper techniques.

Between 1884 and 1887 Brangwyn travelled to Kent, Cornwall and Devon. He then travelled to Istanbul, Turkey and Egypt in 1888, South Africa and Zanzibar in 1891, made several trips to Spain in 1892 and Morocco in 1893. This travel would influence his work; his palette lightened and his Orientalist painting became popular back in Europe. 

Brangwyn was reputed to be perpetually working and it’s estimated thathe produced over 12,000 works during his lifetime. He completed murals for the Worshipful Company of Skinners, London (1902-09), St Aidan's church in Leeds (1908-16), the Manitoba Legislative Building, Winnipeg, Manitoba (1918-21), Christ's Hospital, Horsham (1912-23), the State Capitol, Jefferson City, USA (1915-25), the British Empire panels, Swansea (1925-32), and Rockefeller Center, New York (1930-34). 

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.

In 1917 he collaborated with the Japanese artist Urushibara Mokuchu on a series of woodblock prints. Although  he was not an official war artist, Brangwyn produced a body of propaganda posters highlighting atrocities committed against Belgium.

He became increasingly pessimistic and a hypochondriac and began disposing of his possessions during the 1930s. Brangwyn donated many of his own and other artworks to museums and galleries in Britain and Europe including the British Museum and the William Morris Gallery.. In 1936 he presented Bruges with over 400 works, now in the Arents House Museum. In return Bruges made him Citoyen d'Honneur de Bruges, only the third time the award had been given. 

In his final years Brangwyn lived as a recluse and died on 11 June 1956 at his home in Sussex. In 1952 Clifford Musgrave estimated that Brangwyn had produced over 12,000 works.  Brangwyn's mural commissions would cover over 22,000 sq ft (2,000 m2) of canvas, he painted over 1,000 oils, over 660 mixed media works (watercolours, gouache), over 500 etchings, about 400 wood engravings and woodcuts, 280 lithographs, 40 architectural and interior designs, 230 designs for furniture, and 20 stained-glass panels and windows.

Selected Collections

Ontario, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Art Gallery of Peel, Peel Heritage Complex, Brampton, ON
MacKenzie Art Gallery n Saskatoon, SK
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, AB
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MA
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC

Arents House, Brugge, Belgium
The Albertina, Vienna, Austria
British Museum, London, UK
Imperial War Museum, London, UK
National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
Royal Academy of Arts , London, UK
Tate Britain, London, UK
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Glasgow Museums, Glasgow, Scotland

Portrait of Frank Brangwyn by Earnest Stephen Lumsden

Portrait of Frank Brangwyn by Earnest Stephen Lumsden

Brangwyn Signature

Royal Academy
Royal Watercolour Society
Royal Society of British Artists

Awards and Honours
1891 Medal at Paris Salon
1894 Two medals at the Chicago Exhibition
1897 Gold Medal, Munich for The Scoffers
1897 Silver Medal, Great Exhibition Paris for The Market of Bushire
1902 Chevalier of the Legion of Honour
1904 Associate member of the Royal Academy
1906 Gold medal of Venice and Grand Prix of Milan for the etching Sante Maria della Salute
1911 Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Italy
1912 Gold Medal, Berlin Salon
1917 Commander of the Italian Order of Saints Maurice & Lazarus
1919 Commander and Cross of the Order of Leopold I of Belgium
1919 Full member of the Royal Academy
1925-1926, President of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.
1932 The Albert Medal
1936 Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium
1941 Knight Bachelor, Great Britain