Friday, 12 April 2013

Frampton Comes Alive!

It's probably just me but whenever I hear the name 'Frampton', I think of entirely the wrong one...

Not just now Mr Frampton, I'm looking at some art...
That is obviously the very presumptious Peter Frampton, multi-instrumentalist and all-round musical God.  No, no, I meant Edward Frampton, pastel God of delicate paintwork...

Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1912)
I seem to come across a lot of Frampton's works when I gather pictures together to do posts on various themes, but I never knew that much about him.  I decided to remedy that by collecting up some rather delicious works and giving you a bit of background so we can give Mr Frampton (or 'The Framp' as I have taken to calling him) the proper attention he deserves.

Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make, Nor Iron Bars a Cage (1908)
Born in 1870, the son of a stained glass window artist, Edward Reginald Frampton began his artist career in his father's studio.  He attended Brighton Grammar School and Westminster School of Art at exactly the same time as Aubrey Beardsley (blimey, imagine that), but then saw an exhibition of Edward Burne-Jones' works which changed his direction.  It is not hard to see Burne-Jones' willow-stem maidens in Frampton's women, nor for the matter Evelyn de Morgan's embrace of a rich pallette, but there is something that makes Frampton unique to my eye.  In his handling of paint, he layers colour with the effect of a butterflies wing, luminous, powerful but with a delicate powder that makes it look fragile and transitory.  Possibly it's the effect of the tempera, that ancient medium that found such a resurgence among artists such as Joseph Southall, but there is something in that surface that adds a dimension to his subjects which often speak of loss and the fragility of life and love.

Ferdinand and Miranda from The Tempest, Act V
An odd note of Frampton's work is the lack of shadow and light-source, which add to the flat, medieval feeling of his works. I get a very definite hint of Millais' Isabella in the above work, awkward people, strange chairs, tilted tables and a sense of gentle, brittle beauty.


His single-figure works are so delicious, deceptive in their simplicity.  Look at the wealth of detail surrounding Elaine as she pines away for that shiny-thighed feckless love-god, Lancelot.  In Ariadne, no other detail is needed but the broken-hearted expression on poor, deceived Ariadne's face.

Fairyland (1906)
Despite the plethora of really Pre-Raphaelite-inspired paintings, like Fairyland above, Frampton is mainly known as a religious artist.  It's true that he followed his father's footsteps into church, and his work can be seen in churches such as All Saints in Hastings. and apparently one in Southampton which I shall have to hunt down. He also produced some War Memorials for churches, living through the horror of the First World War.

The Nativity
Our Lady of Promise
The Framp didn't die until 1923 and so was able to be part of that quintessentially twentieth century art form, the transport poster...

The Open Road (1923)
Produced the year he died, this seems a million miles away from Pre-Raphaelite maidens sighing and dying for love and more in line with bobbed-hair and Clarice Cliff, a world emerging from the Great War, somewhat streamlined and hardened by the experience.  Yet still, in those powder-spilt forests and sun-dappled fields, the romance of the bygone era exists, sharing a need for escape that was heightened by the fields of Flanders.

Spring (1911)
So come, my friends, embrace The Framp.  His art has all the grace of a butterfly's wing and seems as sweet and ephemeral as a lover's sigh.  What more do you want in your life?  Oh, and happy Spring!


  1. I will have to find an occasion to use the phrase "shiny-thighed Lancelot".

  2. Try and drop it into conversation today, I dare you...

  3. Dear Kirsty
    A really interesting post again, thank you. I think I can detect some Waterhouse influences too - especially in 'Ariadne'. He had a great way with colour!
    Best wishes

  4. Was he any relation of Sir George Frampton RA (1860-1928, sculptor of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and of Edith Cavell outside the NPG, and Master of the Art Workers' Guild) or of his son Meredith Frampton RA (1894-1984)? I saw a lovely little exhibition of Meredith's work at the Tate in 1982, and I dug out the catalogue after I'd read your post, expecting to find that he was Edward's son, but he wasn't. They were a hell of a dynasty if they were all related, weren't they? Richard Morphet's catalogue essay says that Meredith's 'instinct towards clarity made him sympathetic to the tempera revival, but beyond a few experiments he did not use this medium himself', which is a surprise. Certainly in reproduction they look like tempera. Art Deco with a little bit of Pre-Raphaelite DNA in the ancestry. They're very beautiful.

  5. Thanks so much--this is a new artist to me, and the work is just exquisite. PS don't you think Peter Frampton looks a bit like a Pre-Raph maiden on that old album cover anyway?

  6. I did try and find out if George was a relation but I couldn't find any link. I shall away to Ancestry.

    Thanks for your comments!

  7. I really enjoyed this, thanks so much! :0)

  8. The Open Road poster reminds me of the paintings that JRR Tolkien originally did to illustrate The Hobbit.

    And I am going to try to use the phrase Shiny Thighed Lancelot at some point tomorrow!

  9. Just lovely. I wasn't familiar with The Framp, but I am very attracted to the color and thread of wistfulness running that seems to run through the pictures.

  10. I'm glad so many of youhave clutched The Framp to your collective bosom, his stuff is lovely and I think we need to cherish the whole tempera revival a bit more because it is wonderful and a little strange.

    Yes, April, I see what you mean, it is a little Hobbit-y :)

    Thank you for all your comments!

  11. I love doing online jigsaw puzzles of his work. I completed a 400+ piece puzzle of the "Ferdinand and Miranda" one on Jigidi at work the other day. There's something soothing about the colors, and the way every item in the picture is defined.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx