Tag Archives: Welsh

Judith and the British Empire

I could continue to ask: DOES THIS MAKE MY BUTT LOOK BIG?

However, this is actually a posterior view of the Maid – not Judith, who is standing in the background with the fauchion – and I have tired of making cracks about butts.

So instead I would rather talk about Frank Brangwyn.

(c) David Brangwyn; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Frank Brangwyn, “Judith and Holofernes,” 1948, Oil on wood, 42 x 30.5 cm, William Morris Gallery, London, England, UK

Imagine producing over 12,000 works across paintings, drawings, illustrations, lithographs, woodcuts, stained glass, furniture, ceramics, table glassware, interiors, and buildings. Imagine mural commissions that cover over 22,000 square feet of canvas (1).  Imagine being commissioned to paint 16 large works that cover 3,000 square feet of the Royal Gallery at the House of Lords at Westminster – and then having them refused for being “too colourful and lively” for the location.  Imagine being the jack-of-all-trades, Frank Brangwyn.

The rejected murals – known as the British Empire Panels – were commissioned in 1924 to commemorate the First World War. Brangwyn, an official war artist, was selected and chose to create a “decorative painting representing various Dominions and parts of the British Empire.”

Brangwyn’s intention was to enliven the gloomy Royal Gallery with ‘decorative painting representing various Dominions and parts of the British Empire’. No geographical logic was intended; the panels have a spirit of fantasy showing a protected world of beauty and plenty, based artistically on Brangwyn’s many travels and also his studies of animals in London Zoo. (2)

Obviously not the intention of the House of Lords, who rejected them after seven years of labor.  Thus the panels were acquired for the Swansea Guildhall and installed in Brangwyn Hall in 1934, where this artistic achievement is enjoyed by the public on a daily basis. (3)

In order to see all 16 panels, go to BBC: Your Paintings – British Empire Panel.  They truly are an explosion of color and life and lushness that would have put the House of Lords in a stupor.  If they were not in a stupor already.

So much more fun than talking about the butt of Judith’s maid, don’t you think?

(1) Clifford Musgrave, ‘Sir Frank Brangwyn RA’, The Studio, April 1953, p136

(2) Frank Rutter, The British Empire Panels Designed For The House Of Lords By Frank Brangwyn, R.A. Essex: F. Lewis, 1933.

(3) City and County of Swansea, British Empire Panels – Sir Frank Brangwyn R.A.


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Whorey


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