Ex­hi­bi­tion of Brang­wyn car­toons which have not been seen in pub­lic since 1924

West Sussex Gazette - - SUSSEX HERITAGE - BY RU­PERT TOOVEY | visit www.tooveys.com

Brang­wyn in Hor­sham has just opened at the Hor­sham Mu­seum and Art Gallery and it is an ex­cep­tional ex­hi­bi­tion. Frank Brang­wyn (1867-1956) was a sig­nif­i­cant and in­flu­en­tial artist in the late 19th and early 20th cen­turies though he did not fit com­fort­ably with the English art es­tab­lish­ment. There is a grow­ing re­vival of in­ter­est in his work. This timely ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tres on a se­lec­tion of car­toons pro­duced by Brang­wyn for Christ’s Hos­pi­tal which have not been seen by the pub­lic since they were last ex­hib­ited in Lon­don in 1924.

The show comes out of the lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the cu­ra­tors of the Hor­sham and Christ’s Hos­pi­tal mu­se­ums, Jeremy Knight and Laura Kid­ner.

As a char­i­ta­ble school Christ’s Hos­pi­tal has to di­rect all its re­sources to of­fer­ing an in­de­pen­dent ed­u­ca­tion of the high­est cal­i­bre to chil­dren with aca­demic po­ten­tial from all walks of life.

Con­se­quently it is a child’s abil­ity and po­ten­tial to ben­e­fit from a Christ’s Hos­pi­tal ed­u­ca­tion that de­ter­mines their se­lec­tion, not their abil­ity to pay. There­fore the car­toons have only re­cently been able to be con­served thanks to the sup­port of the Hor­sham District Coun­cil’s 2019 Year of Cul­ture fund, pro­vid­ing an im­por­tant legacy to this year-long cel­e­bra­tion of her­itage and cul­ture.

It is won­der­ful to see the car­toons by Brang­wyn so beau­ti­fully con­served. They are squared up to en­able them to be en­larged and trans­ferred onto the series of pan­els he painted for the Christ’s Hos­pi­tal chapel. The pan­els fol­low a pro­ces­sion from the Acts of the Apos­tles to the con­ver­sion of Bri­tain to Chris­tian­ity and the mis­sion of the Church of Eng­land.

The car­toon seen here is the study for the panel St Paul Ship­wrecked. Paul trav­elled to Rome to face judge­ment af­ter the dis­ci­ple Ana­nias had healed his sight. St Paul is de­picted with his hands raised in bless­ing giv­ing thanks to God af­ter they were de­liv­ered from the ship­wreck – as it says in the Acts of the Apos­tles ‘And so it came to pass that all es­caped safe to land’.

The pan­els are im­por­tant not just as fine ex­am­ples of Brang­wyn’s work, but also be­cause they form part of a com­mon nar­ra­tive among mod­ern Bri­tish artists at the time who sought to reaf­firm what it is to be Bri­tish and to re­deem our na­tion from the ex­pe­ri­ence of the first in­dus­tri­alised world war.

The pan­els are hon­est about the costs of stand­ing up for right­eous­ness with il­lus­tra­tions of Chris­tian mar­tyrs, many as­so­ci­ated with Bri­tain. But they are also hope­ful clearly de­pict­ing the tri­umph of good over evil.

Ap­pro­pri­ately two pen­cil draw­ings by Brang­wyn from Hor­sham Mu­seum and Art Gallery’s own col­lec­tion are on show for the first time to­gether with other works by the artist loaned from pri­vate col­lec­tions in­clud­ing the pain­terly cru­ci­fix­ion seen here and ex­am­ples of his ceram­ics.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, Brang­wyn in Hor­sham, leads a grow­ing re­nais­sance of in­ter­est in this sig­nif­i­cant artist. It runs at the Hor­sham Mu­seum and Art Gallery, The Cause­way, Hor­sham, RH12 1HE, un­til the 23rd March 2019 pro­vid­ing a rare op­por­tu­nity to see these ex­cep­tional works and ad­mis­sion is free. The ex­hi­bi­tion will then move to Christ’s Hos­pi­tal Mu­seum. For more in­for­ma­tion go to www. hor­sham­mu­seum.org

Ru­pert Toovey is a se­nior di­rec­tor of Toovey’s, the lead­ing fine art auc­tion house in West Sus­sex, based on the A24 at Wash­ing­ton - www.tooveys. com - and a priest in the Church of Eng­land Dio­cese of Chich­ester.

Frank Brang­wyn - St Paul Ship­wrecked, Christ’s Hos­pi­tal car­toon

Frank Brang­wyn - Cru­ci­fix­ion, oil on board.

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