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ID number:  BIRRC-A1478
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Brangwyn, Frank
Title / Object name:  Study for Birmingham University War Memorial
Object type:  Drawing
Date made:  c.1921
Materials:  Gouache on brown paper, pitch pine frame with ebony stringing
Measurements:  overall: H 34.5 x W 57 x D 1.5 cm
Provenance:  Waldron West until 1994, thence by decent

Commissioned by Sir Aston Webb, architect of the original University buildings, Brangwyn designed a memorial for ex-soldiers consisting of three panels. The central panel features a religious scene. A figure is raised from the dead and celestial light rains down. This may represent rebirth - a popular motif at the time, following the atrocities of the Great War. The side panels represent industrial scenes of Birmingham, filled with chimneys and smoke. Brangwyn was known for his representations of and interest in industry. Brangwyn may also have been inspired by friezes on the Aston Webb building by Robert Anning-Bell. Brangwyn’s project did not come to fruition; instead the University decided upon the Rolls of Honour that are carved in the entrance foyer. This is the only known study for the original idea.

Despite not being an official war artist, Brangwyn created over 80 posters which are now synonymous with First World War propaganda. He also created many large-scale murals in North America, such as South Corridor at the Rockefeller Centre, New York.

Notes:  Inscribed Brimingham War Memorial in red, illegible inscription above. Gouache on brown paper.

Provenance: Waldron West until 1994, thence by descent.

In a French pitch pine flat section frame with ebony stringing.

Brangwyn's assistant Frank Aldord noted in his diary in July 1921 that Sir Aston Webb discussed a mosaic memorial to ex-soldiers, consisting of three panels. The project never came to completion. This is the only known study for the work.

Waldron West, a portait painter who was born, trained and worked in Worcestershire, was profoundly influenced by Brangwyn.

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