Frank Bramley

(6 May 1857 - 9 Aug 1915)

Bramley was born in Sibsey, near Boston, in Lincolnshire to Charles Bramley from Fiskerton also in Lincolnshire.

From 1873 to 1878, Bramley studied at the Lincoln School of Art. He then studied from 1879 to 1882, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where Charles Verlat was his instructor. He lived in Venice from 1882 to 1884, and then moved to Newlyn, Cornwall.

Bramley married fellow artist Katherine Graham, daughter of John Graham from Huntingstile, Grasmere, Westmoreland, in 1891. The couple lived at Orchard Cottage, which at the time was called Belle Vue Cottage, from 1893 to 1897. In 1895, they moved to Droitwich in the West Midlands. They lived at Bellue Vue House in 1889, and by 1900, had settled at Grasmere in the Lake District.

Having returned to England from Venice in or after 1884, Bramley established himself in the Newlyn School artist colony on Rue des Beaux Arts in Newlyn. Along with Walter Langley and Stanhope Forbes, he was considered to be one of the "leading figures" of the Newlyn School.

In contrast to other members of the Newlyn school, Bramley specialised in interiors and worked on combining natural and artificial light in his paintings, such as 'A Hopeless Dawn'.

During his time in Newlyn, Bramley was a particular exponent of the ‘square brush technique’, using the flat of a square brush to lay the paint on the canvas in a jigsaw pattern of brush strokes, giving a particular vibrancy to the paint surface. In the early 1890s, his palette became brighter and his handling of the paint looser and more impastoed, while his subject matter narrowed to portraits and rural genre paintings.

An example of Bramley's use of the square brush technique is his painting 'Domino!'.

His 'A Hopeless Dawn' (1888), is held by the Tate Gallery, London after having been purchased for the nation by the Chantrey Bequest and is one of Bramley's most favored works. Praised by the Royal Academy, Penlee House also appreciate this Bramley work: "The painting’s strong emotional and narrative content, together with its aesthetic appeal and tonal harmony, make this one of the most admired Newlyn School works to this day."

Bramley was one of the founders of the New English Art Club, but left the organization after having received condemning comments from Walter Sickert.

In 1894, Bramley became an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) and in 1911 he became a Royal Academician (RA). He was also a gold medal winner at the Paris Salon.[]

English painter, was born near Lincolnshire. He studied art at Lincoln and later at Antwerp, first exhibiting in the Academy in 1884. Bramley became one of the best-known members of the group of English painters known as the Newlyn school, and in 1888 his picture, “A Hopeless Dawn,” was bought under the terms of the Chantrey bequest. He became A.R.A. in 1894, and was elected R.A. in 1911, being also a gold medallist of the French Salon.
Bramley died in Chalford Hill, Gloucestershire.

[1922 Encyclopædia Britannica; Bramley, Frank Brandeis, Louis Dembitz]

No. 1627. A Hopeless Dawn.
"Human effort and sorrow going on perpetually from age to age. Waves rolling for ever, and winds moaning, and faithful hearts wasting and sickening for ever, and brave lives dashed away about the rattling beach like weeds for ever, and still, at the helm of every lonely boat, through starless night and hopeless dawn, His hand, who spreads the fisher's net over the dust of the Sidonian palaces, and gave into the Usher's hand the Keys of the Kingdom of heaven." -- Ruskin.

A young wife kneels in despair beside her old mother, who has been trying to comfort her during the long watches of a tempestuous night. A Bible lies open before them. Through the cottage window is seen a raging sea by the light of a cheerless dawn breaking through a stormy sky. On the window-sill a candle that has burnt all night as a beacon has just flickered out. Signed, Frank Bramley, 1888. Painted at Newlyn in Cornwall. On canvas, 3 ft. 11 1/2 in. h. by 5 ft. 5 1/2 in. w. Etched by James Dobie for the Art Journal. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1888. Chantrey Purchase, 1888.

[Descriptive and historical catalogue of the pictures and sculpture in the National Gallery, British art, 1907.]
[Cunningham's Lives of British Painters]

LONDON, August 12.
The death is announced at the age of 58 years of Mr. Frank Bramley, member of the Royal Academy. He was born at Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, and was educated ai Lincoln, in Antwerp, and in Paris. He won the gold medal of the Champs Elysees Art School, and in 1893, he became an Associate of the Champs de Mars. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy, in 1894, and became a full member in 1911.

Mr. Bramley studied for a time in Venice, and he painted two pictures there. In 1884, he settled at Newlyn, in Cornwall, and he was one of the most distinguished members of that school. Among his most successful pictures were "Weaving Nets," ''Hopeless Dawn,'' "Sleep,"' and "For of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven." He had painted many portraits.

[The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1889-1931), Friday 13 August 1915]

The Advertiser (commonly known as The Tiser) is a daily tabloid-format newspaper published in the city of Adelaide, South Australia. First published as a broadsheet named The South Australian Advertiser on 12 July 1858.

Frank Bramley, R. A., died Wednesday, at his home at Grasmere, Westmoreland, England at the age of fifty-eight. He won, among other honors the gold medal at the Paris Salon.

[American Art News, Vol. 13, No. 35 (Aug. 14, 1915)]

London, August 12, Thursday -- Frank Bramley, R.A. is dead at his home in Grasmere, Westmoreland, at the age of 58 years. He was widely known as an artist and was holder of the gold medal of the Champs Elyssees.

[The New York Times, Published: August 12,1915]

View painter's art: Frank Bramley (1857-1915) [new window view]