Blacksmiths by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA RWS PRBA HRSA, 1867-1956. Paint on panel. The Studio 34 (1905): 286.]

Commentary by A. S. Covey (1905)

The group of the smiths is perhaps the finest of the four panels. Here the scheme of lighting is reversed, and the two foreground figures stand out in the warm, golden light from the forge, while the two on the opposite side of the anvil sink into a greyish-blue shadow. A strong note of blue is seen in the glimpse of the afternoon summer sky which one gets through the opening beyond. But these panels are but respondent notes to the room itself. The pleasure he has given us is far greater. He has filled the room with a vibration of colour harmonies, as the skilled musician at the organ floods the room with harmonious volumes of sound. [Covey, 292]

Commentary by Walter Shaw Sparrow (1911)

In this typical phase of his work Brangwyn has used pastel on a good many occasions, as in studies for the room decorations that he carried out in the Venice International Exhibition of 1905. He then designed the whole scheme in the British section, its woodwork and its furniture. There were four large oblong panels and two smaller ones, representing forms of present-day labour — potters, for instance, navvies, smiths, and workers in steel, this one being a study in pastel. It was hoped in Venice that these decorations would remain permanently there, in the Municipal Gallery, but thanks to an English patron of art, Mr. S. Wilson, they were purchased for the City Art Gallery of Leeds, and a fifth panel — "Weavers" — was commissioned to bear them company in the Brangwyn room. Many sketches were made for these works, some in pastel, and others in contd; two of the most important passed into the private collection of M. A. G. Migeon of the Louvre. [Frank Brangwyn and His Work, 172]

Formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL or credit the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Covey, A.S. “Frank Brangwyn's scheme for the decoration of the British Section at the Venice Exhibition.” The Studio. 34 (May 1905): 285-92. Internet Archive. Web. 14 February 2012.

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.

Last modified 12 June 2020