Saturday, February 17, 2007


This is an unpublished sketch by the great Frank Brangwyn.

One of the things I like best about this drawing is how Brangwyn renders in a tight, representational way when he wants to, but does not let the parlour trick of realism distract him from higher goals. I think this is a beautifully designed study.

Many artists with dazzling technical skill have had successful careers meticulously painting eyelashes and fingernails. Boris, Vargas, Duillo and Rowena are examples that come to mind. I respect their discipline but personally I find their art to be mediocre and boring. Artists such as Brangwyn, who are able to keep realism in its proper perspective, start where those artists leave off.


Anonymous said...

OK, I'm bad, but what is he holding? cp (PS you have comments on the Vday post too)

Anonymous said...

"parlor tricks of realism"--great phrase.

chris miller said...

A "beautifully designed picture" ?

It appears to be two pictures joined at the waist -- that don't especially fit together very well.

That might be why anonymous is wondering what he's holding -- where does that spear(?) go -- into his leg ?

Very strange ! But before I looked more carefully -- it did seem to come from the German renaissance.

David Apatoff said...

Chris and anonymous,the drawing may be a little dark because of the background, but this seems to be a royal flag or standard bearer dressed in a hooded ceremonial robe.

I don't claim to understand all the trappings, bells and whistles on his garment. I like the way that Brangwyn went from the sharp delineation of the face to the much broader, almost abstract folds and shapes surrounding the body.

This sketch was originally purchased by the illustrator and author Henry Pitz, who spotted it on a trip to London.

John said...

Yes, it's sort of a minimalist approach to drawing; giving just a few lines to create a complete form, and letting the observer's mind fill in the details.

Anonymous said...

David, many thanks for appreciating the skill and confidence in Brangwyn's drawings - seems to me that when it comes to draughtsmanship FB is up there with the best of them - and yet he had NO formal art training! I think the work may be a study for the Skinners Hall panels in London.