Frank Owen SALISBURY (British, 1874-1962)
The Magic Crystal
Signed `Frank Salisbury’ (lower right)
Oil on canvas
76.8 x 101.6 cm.
112 x 87 cm. (including frame)
Condition: Oil on canvas, not relined, craquelure, good impasto, in overall good condition, in a well gilded attractive wood frame with minor chips and abrasions
One of 11 children, Salisbury was such a delicate child that he was educated at home, in the main by his student teacher sister, Emilie. He initially was an apprentice for his brother, a craftsman in stained glass. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools which he attended for five years and where he won two silver medals and two scholarships. In due course he would have seventy exhibits accepted for the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions, from 1899 until 1943.
His first Royal Academy exhibit was a portrait of his daughter Alice and he often painted pictures of their children.
It is for portraiture that he is best known. His speed producing portraits stemmed from painting his own twin daughters every morning for an hour. A chance meeting with Lord Wakefield (founder of Castrol Oil and a Methodist philanthropist) saw his introduction to society portraiture.
Twenty-five members of the Royal House of Windsor sat for Salisbury and he was the first artist to paint HM Queen Elizabeth II. He painted Winston Churchill on more occasions than any other artist; the two iconic images of Churchill – The Siren Suit and Blood and Sweat and Tears are both Salisbury images. Other significant portraits include those of Richard Burton, Andrew Carnegie (posthumous), Montgomery of Alamein, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Benito Mussolini, John Player, Lord Rank, and Sir Henry Wood. Salisbury was remarkably successful in the USA. He painted six Presidents with his depiction of Franklin D. Roosevelt remaining the official White House portrait to this day. Other giants of the age who sat for him included Will Keith Kellogg, John Davison Rockefeller Jr., Billy Graham and Pope Pius XII.
This unusual and striking Art Deco example marries Salisbury’s skills in portraiture and love of glass. He plays with the light emitted from the crystal the beautiful maiden is staring into, and creates a wonderfully sumptuous and atmospheric composition. Unlike his usual portraits this is most definitely a labour of love.