FRANK BRAMLEYBritish 1857 - 1915


Provenance: Waterhouse & Dodd, London; Private Collection, USA (acquired from the above in 2002)
Exhibited: Christie's New English Art Club Centenary Exhibition, London, August-September 1986, no.3

FRANK BRAMLEYBritish 1857 - 1915

Frank Bramley is considered one of the most important artists of the Newlyn School, the group of artists who settled in Newlyn, Cornwall during the 1880s and 1890s, drawn by the light, lifestyle and the example of Alexander Stanhope Forbes, and were at the forefront of 'British Impressionism'.

He was particularly ‘in the news’ when his painting of a woman reading in a garden made the astonishing price of $590,000 at Sotheby's New York in late May 1996. As the seminal catalogue of the famous Newlyn School exhibition states, Bramley's reputation has rested for some time on Hopeless Dawn, his major RA exhibition of 1888, and which in recent years has been hung almost constantly at the Tate Gallery.

Bramley was born in Lincolnshire and trained at Lincoln Art School, later at Verlat's Academy in Antwerp, from where he went to Venice in 1882-83, where our painting was executed. He first showed at the Royal Academy in London in 1884 (both paintings were Venetian scenes), and it was in the winter of 1884/5 that Bramley settled in Newlyn. He was a quiet and reserved figure, prone to bouts of melancholy. He worked on his own in a tiny studio in an old thatched cottage - the cottage consisted of two rooms, one at ground level (which was the studio) and one which was below ground which was inhabited by a woman who'd lost her arms and who managed to look after a set of tiny children as well as a small potato and turnip shop.

Bramley moved to a purpose-built glass studio in 1889. He is known as the master of the so-called 'square-brush technique' which characterises much of the best Newlyn School work and he used this until 1893, later than most of his colleagues. Bramley was friendly with the great artist Sargent and with him was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1894, being elected a full member in 1911. In 1891 he had married, and 4 years later they moved to the Midlands where his work became less socially orientated and more purely decorative. His last years were spent in a London flat and under the strain of a painful illness. He died in 1915 aged 58, a moving obituary in The Times speaks of a modest, quiet, sweet and gentle man.