Alfred Munnings

Sir Alfred James Munnings

Armand Cabrera

Alfred James Munnings was born in England on October 8, 1878. He was the second son of John Munnings, a miller. Munnings left school at the age of 14 for a six-year apprenticeship with a firm of lithographers in Norwich. By day he excelled as a lithographic draughtsman. He studied painting at night. Although Munnings was offered a job after finishing his lithographers’ apprenticeship, he turned it down. Instead, he bought a carpenters shop and converted it into an artist studio. He supported himself through freelance poster work and the occasional sale of paintings. Within months of this decision, he tragically lost his right eye in an accident. However, the loss did not affect his determination to paint. In his autobiography, Munnings wrote of his difficulties. “I wasn’t allowed to use my right eye for months and when I went to paint my brush either hit the canvas before I knew it was there or was not touching it. Mostly it was the latter and I found myself making strokes in the air nearer and nearer until I touched the painted surface…”

Munnings would travel with his man, Bob, a gypsy boy called Shrimp and seven or eight horses, ponies, a donkey, a blue painted caravan and a cart for his painting materials—all would be his models. They would travel until suitable country was found and then spend weeks painting in the open air.

In 1918, Munnings became an official war artist with the Canadian Calvary Brigade. His painting of General Jack Seely on his horse became a turning point in Munnings career. Munnings was able to skillfully capture both the rider’s portrait as well as the horse. This led to many commissions and brought him money and fame.

In 1920, Munnings married Violet McBride. Violet was confident of her husband’s greatness as an artist and tended to all his business matters and promotion.

Over the course of his long career, 289 of Alfred Munnings’ paintings hung in the Royal Academy Exhibitions. He was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1947 and was knighted that same year. In 1949, his last speech as President caused quite a stir. He publicly excoriated members for practicing modern art. The affront was exacerbated by the fact that Munnings speech was broadcast live to millions of people. He was always brutally honest in his opinions and this speech was no exception.

Munnings died in 1959. His wish was that his paintings be left to the Nation to promote ‘traditional art’. Lady Munnings established their home, “Castle House”, as a museum. The house, studio, 40 acres of land and all of Munnings paintings in Lady Munnings possession were put into a trust and are now open to the public.

Sir Alfred Munnings
Stanley Booth

A.J. Munnings
An Appreciation of the Artist and a Selection of His Paintings

Stanley Booth

If a man sees right and can draw-every artist should draw, although fools say it does not matter today-he needs no photograph.

Edward Seago

Edward Seago


Armand Cabrera

Edward Brian Seago was born in Norwich, England. A heart condition caused him to be homeschooled and spend a considerable amount of time at rest. It was his mother, an amateur watercolorist, who encouraged Seago to paint. Although primarily self-taught, Seago received some instruction from Bertram Priestman. As a young man, Seago lived a dual life—spending time with the circus performers and gypsies and accepting patronage from prominent society. It was his connection to society that helped Seago achieve the financial success he deserved. His affiliations with prominent art dealers, especially Tom Baskett of P. and D. Colnaghi Galleries, gave Seago the steady promotion of his work, which was lacking in the prewar years. Following the war, the gallery had solo shows of Seago’s works, alternating annually with his watercolors and oils.

At a time when most artists chased so-called “modern art principals”, Seago tenaciously clung to his own idea of painting. Ignored by critics and the art establishment of the time, the public increasingly embraced his honest depictions of East Anglia and his travels abroad. Seago’s influence can be seen in a new group of British painters, including Trevor Chamberlain, Ron Ranson, and David Curtis.

Seago was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists from 1946 and the Royal Watercolors Society from 1959. He exhibited in London, Glasgow, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Oslo and Brussels.


Edward Seago: The Landscape ArtJames W. Reid
Sotheby’s 1991

Edward Seago
Ron Ranson
David and Charles 1987

QuoteYou can have technique without art, but I do not believe you can have art without technique.~Edward Seago

Richard Parkes Bonington

Richard Parkes Bonington

Armand Cabrera

Richard Parkes Bonington was born in Arnold, England in 1802. His family moved to Calais, France in 1817, then moved again to Paris. The young Bonington spent time copying pictures in the Louvre. He met Eugene Delacroix in Paris and the two artists became lifelong friends. At fifteen, Bonington entered the studio of Baron Gros. Bonington rose quickly in the ranks. His bravura painting and excellent drawing facility garnered much praise throughout his career. The Academic schedule of drawing from casts soon bored Bonington and he found himself at odds with his teacher. By 1821, the relationship reached its breaking point and he set out on his own path of study.

Bonington preferred to paint on location and record nature and modern life. Longing to break from the stylized stage settings and mythic genre of most academic landscapes,
Bonington set out on a sketching tour to Normandy. He explored painting and sketching from life, focusing on coastal scenes. In 1822, he illustrated travel books for Parisian publishers. The success of these illustrations led to his demand with publishers, dealers and collectors. During this time, Bonington studied the art of lithography and received financial backing to publish his own set of lithographic views of Normandy.

Bonington received a Gold Medal for his entry in the Salon of 1824. The Salon was a turning point for landscape art. Young painters sought to overthrow the restrictions on subject and finish set by the Academics. Leading the attack were the English painters.

Although Bonington’s career spanned less than ten years, his influence on French painting was profound. Bonington was skilled in watercolors and oils and also created fine lithographs and engravings. He was the link between the English landscape painters, Turner and Constable, and the Barbizon School and the Impressionists.

Bonington fell ill during a sketching trip and contracted a complication of pulmonary consumption. He died one month before his 26th birthday.

Richard Parkes Bonington ‘On the Pleasure of Painting’
Patrick Noon
1991 Yale University press

Quote Lithography is drawing itself. In it we discover the hand, the thought of it’s author: it is not a faithful copy; to our mind it is the echo of the model, it is a mirror that reflects and multiplies the original.~ R.P. Bonington

Sir Frank Brangwyn RA

Armand Cabrera

Frank Brangwyn was born in Bruges Belgium, in 1867. In 1874, his family moved to England. Frank Brangwyn received some artistic training in the workshops of William Morris, but received no formal artistic education. At the age of seventeen, one of Brangwyn’s paintings was accepted at the Royal Academy. His canvas, “Funeral At Sea”, painted in 1890, won a Medal of the 3rd Class at the 1891 Paris Salon.

When there was a strong interest in Orientalism, Brangwyn worked as a deck hand traveling to the Black Sea and Turkey. He created many outdoor paintings and drawings of Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Africa.

In 1895, the Parisian art dealer, Siegfried Bing, commissioned Brangwyn to decorate the exterior of his Galerie L’Art Nouveau. Brangwyn began mural painting as part of his repertoire. Brangwyn received many mural commissions.

In 1901, he painted murals for the Great Hall at Skinners, London. They were eventually completed in 1909.
Brangwyn painted eight murals for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, 1915. They are now located in the lobby at the Herbst Theatre.

His most famous murals are the British Empire Panels painted 1925 – 1932. They were commissioned to commemorate the First World War. The sixteen works cover 3,000 square feet in total. They were originally intended for the House of Lords at Westminster, but rejected for being too colorful and spirited. They are now located in Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Wales.

In 1930, Brangwyn was chosen by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. along with Diego Rivera to decorate the RCA Building in New York City. The murals were completed in 1934.

In 1936 Brangwyn presented the city of Bruges, Belgium with over four hundred works. In return, Bruges made Brangwyn a Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II and Citoyen d’Honneur de Bruges (only the third time the award had been given). He was knighted in 1941.

As well as murals, paintings and drawings, Brangwyn also created designs for furniture and stained glass, ceramics, table glassware, buildings and interiors. In addition he illustrated books.

Brangwyn died on the 11th of June 1956 at his home in Sussex.


Frank Brangwyn the Bruges Collection
Dominique Marechal
Generale Bank 1987

Frank Brangwyn 1867-1956Leeds Museums & Galleries 2007

British Empire Panels Designed for the House of Lords By Frank Brangwyn
Frank Rutter
Lewis 1933

Frank Brangwyn and His Work
Walter Shaw Sparrow
Dana Estes and Company1911

Art is individuality added to tradition
~Frank Brangwyn

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale


Armand Cabrera

Eleanor Brickdale was the youngest child of a barrister. She began her formal study of art at 17 enrolling in the Crystal Palace School of Art and then the Royal Academy School in London. In 1894 her father was killed in an alpine accident and the family moved to Kensington. She began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in the black and white section starting in 1896 and won a prize for her painting, spring in 1897. That same year she had a feature in The Studio on her work.

The prize money from her award let her concentrate on larger paintings for the Royal Academy shows. Her first large scale oils were shown at the RA in 1899. That same year she illustrated Sir Walter Scotts Ivanhoe. In the summer of that same year she received a commission from London Gallery owners Walter and Charles Dowdeswell for a solo show of watercolors, to be delivered and paid for in quarterly installments over the next two years. The exhibition of forty five pictures opened in 1901. The show was widely reviewed and well praised and all except two paintings were sold.

Brickdale received another article in The Studio in 1901 with eight monochrome and two color pieces written by Walter Shaw Sparrow. The next year Brickdale was the first woman elected to the Institute of Painters in Oils and became an associate member of the Royal Watercolor Society.

More book commissions came in and Brickdale continued to regularly exhibit her watercolors in the bi-annual shows at the Royal Watercolor Society from 1902 and at least one oil painting a year at the Royal Academy. Dowdeswell Galleries renewed their commission for another show of watercolors in 1905. In 1909 Leicester Galleries commissioned a show of 28 works based on Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

Brickdale and her work continued to be popular and more commissions for book illustrations and gallery shows kept her busy until 1932 when her eyesight began to fail.

Brickdale suffered a stroke in 1938 but continued to show paintings at the Royal Watercolor Society shows until 1942. Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale died in London in 1945 at the age of 73.


Women Artists and the Pre-Raphealite Movement

Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerish Nunn

1989 Virago Press