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Frank Bramely room cardDownload PDF
This room card was created for the exhibition Closer 16 December 2017 – 26 August 2018.
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This portrait was completed while Frank Bramley (1857-1915) and William Wainwright were studying together at the Antwerp Academy. The men also shared a studio in Paris between 1882 and 1884. Bramley returned to England in 1884 and became a member of the Newlyn School of British artists. Wainwright has painted this portrait in a careful manner, paying particular attention to the carved details of the cabinet behind Bramley. His apprenticeship with John Hardman & Co., stained glass designers and cabinetmakers in Birmingham, would have proved valuable in giving him an understanding of carving such as this. Born in Birmingham, Wainwright studied at the Birmingham School of Art and at the School of Pugin. He was a founder of the Birmingham Art Circle in 1879 and a member of the Birmingham Society of Artists. After a short period in London and two years in Newlyn, Wainwright returned to Birmingham in 1886. For a time he directed the Life Academy at Birmingham School of Art.
Helen Chalmers was Frank Bramley’s niece and, in this Edwardian study, is clearly the centre of attention. The painting shows the naturalism of the Newlyn School to which Bramley belonged and whose members had a common desire ‘to study humanity in relation to its surroundings’. The School was also known for the impressionistic bravura of brush technique.
When this painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1908 it was ‘hung on the line’, that is, it was placed at eye-level, which was a sign of Academic acceptance and approval.
Bramley was born in Lincolnshire and began his studies at Lincoln School of Art. In 1879 he left for Verlat’s Academy in Antwerp. After further travel in Europe he returned to England c.1884 and later became a member of the Newlyn School. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1884 and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1911.