Bacchanal by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA RWS PRBA HRSA, 1867-1956. Probably c. 1907. Oil on canvas. Size: 102.8 x 76.3 cm. Collection: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. NMW A 150. Given by Sir Goscombe John in 1943. According to the gallery's website, "this composition reflects Brangwyn's knowledge of the seventeenth century Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), who painted several pictures of nymphs and satyrs merrymaking." Brangwyn himself was drawn to the subject of merrymaking: for instance, he showed "a modern celebration of the festival of Bacchus" entitled The Blood of the Grape at the Royal Academy in 1896 (Sparrow 228), and New Wine in 1910 (Sparrow 236).

The luscious gilded frame sets the scene off well, so much so that it seems a shame to show the painting without it. Since Brangwyn took a keen interest in decorative art and the presentation of his work (often as murals), the heavily ornate, probably Flemish-style, frame would have been very much a part of the composition here. According to Bonhams, his "preferred framer was Alfred Stiles," who supplied Brangwyn with a frame in his "favoured Flemish design" for another painting of 1890.

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. Thanks to the National Museum of Wales for permitting photography. [Click on the image to enlarge it, and click on the first item in the bibliography to visit the museum's own site.]


Bacchanal. Amgueddfa Cymru (National Library of Wales). Web. 10 July 2021.

"Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA." (a note on another painting, Stamboul.) Bonhams. Web. 10 July 2121.

Sparrow, Walter Shaw (with appendices revised and updated to 1914 by Brangwyn himself). Frank Brangwyn and His Work. Boston: Page, 1910. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Getty Research Institute. Web. 10 July 2021.

Last modified 10 July 2021