A great inequality is noticeable when we contrast the plates that represent natural forces and the engines that are their instruments with other plates that depict the individual labours of mankind. No matter how great is the emphasis that he gives to the stature, the gesture or the strain of effort in his workmen, sawyers, bricklayers, dyers, tanners, rowers, or sailors hauling boats, by the artful dimensions of his grouping, he is scarcely successful, and hardly seems to trouble about making them very interesting; hence his composition often lacks what is necessary to express the power of their effort — intensity of accent, expressive synthesis. Lifeless things, on the other hand, like machines, receive from his needle the most striking colour and character. The infinite power that is for the moment imprisoned in them seems to interest him intensely. Such, indeed, is the impression that the wharf, like the factory, produces upon us; there the man, whose intelligence enslaves and controls these inorganic forces, seems in such places the inferior, the slave almost, of the monsters that he has in reality tamed. [Sparrow, Frank Brangwyn and His Work, 162-63]

Brangwyn rarely etches for print-cases and portfolios; he etches mainly for rooms, and those prints that represent him most completely as a great etcher always look best when they are hung up as pictures, or, preferably, when they are put within moulded wood frames forming part of a panelled wall. The custom of suspending pictures against a wall is one to be thrust aside as often as possible. Suspended frames not only collect a great deal of dust, which is dislodged by fresh air from open windows; they separate pictures from walls, walls from pictures, though painters and architects should have a common aim when they work for our home life. Art began to sink into a luxury as soon as painters began to drift from mural painting and decorative painting into easel pictures, done at random for persons and rooms unknown. [Sparrow, Prints and Drawings of Brangwyn, 50]





Sparrow, Walter Shaw. Frank Brangwyn and His Work. New York: Dana Estes, 1911. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Ontario College of Art. Web. 28 December 2012.

Sparrow, Walter Shaw. Prints and Drawings of Frank Brangwyn with Some Other Phases of His Art. London: John Lane, 1919. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Ontario College of Art. Web. 28 December 2012.

Last modified 12 June 2020