WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

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alterblau
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WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by alterblau » Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:29 pm

Keith Douglas (La A 1931-5 and Mid B 1936-8) was an OB and World War 2 poet, who survived the North African campaign, but most regrettably he was killed in action just after the Normandy landings at the age of 24. So he has left relatively little work, yet it is of a very high standard. (Edmund Blunden had sent some of his youthful poems to TS Eliot, who thought them “impressive” [Wikipedia].) Many think him the best of the World War 2 war poets. However Douglas was also an artist and it is likely that the Brangwyn paintings, opposite which he sat daily for his years at CH, may have had a great influence on him. WHICH PAINTINGS WERE THESE? Perhaps you can help me find out.

I was in Barnes A (1947 –56) and we always sat opposite the painting entitled, “Let all the people praise Thee! Let all the people praise thee!”. It was a most striking contemporary scene of an outdoor service of ordinary people (including a hunchback playing a harmonium) and located first on the right after entering Chapel. Barnes A then sat in the north east corner of Chapel.

Can. the FORUM’S READERS TELL US THEIR YEARS AND HOUSES AT CH AND OPPOSITE WHICH PAINTINGS THEY SAT? Please post a message in this thread of the Forum giving your house and years at CH, with the name of the painting opposite which you sat? Better still, if you know of a way to find all this information from a single list somewhere, do mention it? If also you can remember which pictures were on either side of “yours” (I can’t do this), do write in with this information too. To assist you by jogging memories there is a list of all Brangwyn’s Chapel painting’s titles below. Most of them describe the picture’s content. Although it is highly unlikely that a contemporary or near-contemporary of Douglas’s will respond, it’s possible.

I suspect that the houses’ positions in Chapel have changed very little over the decades. Perhaps they have never changed since 1902, for their logic probably results from the fact that in my day houses all set off together for Chapel and they march different distances, so arriving at different times in a well defined order. If your house’s Chapel position changed while you were at CH, it will help if you mention this. If any of Douglas’s contemporaries read this message, I shall be overjoyed to hear from you. From all this information it may be possible to deduce the paintings opposite which Douglas sat.

The reason for this longwinded request is to aid a non-OB friend, who is writing a biography of Douglas and thinks that knowing which Brangwyn paintings he knew so well in his most impressionable years may be of great significance, having probably influenced both his art and his poetry.

List of titles
- The Martyrdom of St Stephen “Lord. Lay not this sin to their charge”.
- “And the men led Saul by the hand and brought him to Damascus”.
- St Paul shipwrecked. “So it came to pass that all escaped safe to land”.
- “Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spake”
- The arrival of St Paul at Rome. “He thanked God and took courage”.
- St Ambrose training the choir in his church at Milan. AD 385.
- St Columba landing at Iona. AD 563.
- The conversion of St Augustine at Milan. AD 387. “Take read! Take read!”
- William Caxton printing Bibles at Westminster. AD 1476.
- St Patrick in the forest. AD 450.
- St Augustin at Ebbsfleet. “Turn O Lord Thy wrath from this people”.
- St Alban Martyr. ”Lord with all my heart I offer my soul to thee.
- St Aidan Bishop of Northumbria. AD 635. Training boys at Lindisfarne.
- Let all the people praise thee! Let all the people praise thee!

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:12 pm

Until about 1959, houses always sat in the same place in chapel. ThorntonB sat beneath the eyes of the headmaster at the far 'west' end, and we were treated to The Martyrdom of St Stephen.

However, in about that year, someone had the bright idea of moving the houses' chapel places around, so that we no longer faced the same Brangwyn. I remember ThorntonB being moved first to the place next to the choir, then to the far end beneath the pulpit. Clearly by then I was less impressionable, because I can't really remember the Brangwyns we then sat opposite, though I think one of them was the modern one set in the East End of London.

The house places in chapel (while still fixed) were governed by geographical considerations. The east end houses sat on the 'north' side (actually the east side), and the west end houses faced them. The houses which left their school books in hall so that they didn't have to go back to get them (BaB, Ma; ThA, Pe) were placed at the far end of chapel, beyond the choir, and the chapel was then filled up so that the houses which had furthest to go to get their books (ThB and BaA) sat nearest the door, so that they could get out first, and the others correspondingly. So LaA and MidB would have been opposite each other, in each case the third house away from the door.

Of course if Douglas was in the choir, he would have sat there.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by LongGone » Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:37 am

For about eight hours a week for seven years (54-61, MaA) I sat under the organ, facing the pulpit and I have no recollection of the painting facing me, even though it was probably more interesting than the services.
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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by DavidRawlins » Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:35 pm

I started in 1946, and for my first year sat opposite the East End mission painting. In Michaelmas 1947 we moved to the opposite side and sat under the Headmaster, viewing St Stephan. We then moved one place a year, in an anticlockwise direction, so that I calculated Col A would take 14 years to make the full circuit I left in 1953.
Perhaps when Flecker left the seats became fixed.
May be Chris Bartlett can help more as he arrived during the War , and it might be possible to extrapolate backwards. If movement was in the 1930's, Douglas would have seen about half of the Brangwyn paintings.
Col A 1946-1953

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:54 pm

I'm interested to learn that there had been 'rotation' before my time, because when I arrived I was led to believe house positions had been set in stone for the rational geographical reasons I outlined. It took at least four years after Seaman's arrival for another rotation to take place, and no one remembered a previous one. This was certainly not due to Seaman, who was an innovator in chapel affairs.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by sejintenej » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:10 pm

DavidRawlins wrote:I started in 1946, and for my first year sat opposite the East End mission painting. In Michaelmas 1947 we moved to the opposite side and sat under the Headmaster, viewing St Stephan. We then moved one place a year, in an anticlockwise direction, so that I calculated Col A would take 14 years to make the full circuit I left in 1953.
Perhaps when Flecker left the seats became fixed.
1953 to 1961 Col A remained in the same place on the west side (that is on the right as you look towards the chancel) with the choir on our immediate right (ie towards the altar). From memory, in front of the HM was a large block of seats, then steps and then another large block with steps before the smaller block of seats occupied by the choir. Col A was in the second of those blocks but, AFAIR, had another house beside us on the HM/entry side.
From that geographical description someone in chapel could place us and see the painting in front of us (which was never one which impressed and held my attention for 55 milliseconds let alone 55 years.)
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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:59 pm

Sejintenej's memory accords with mine, except I thought the rotation had started before 1961. But certainly I would have placed Col A as the fourth house on the right, with ColB between them and the choir.

The pictures did occupy my attention, though, perhaps because the services didn't. Apart from the unfortunate St Stephen, I also recall St Paul's shipwreck quite vividly. I would have seen that by looking somewhat to my right.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by sejintenej » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:54 pm

michael scuffil wrote: I also recall St Paul's shipwreck quite vividly. I would have seen that by looking somewhat to my right.
Now you remind me, Yes to that
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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by eucsgmrc » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:14 pm

My memory, such as it is, matches sejintenej's. I left in 1962, and I believe Col A's place in chapel was the same then as when I arrived in 1954.

I can remember many of the murals, but what I can't recall is which individual one was facing me through all those daily chapel services. St Paul's shipwreck is a very familiar image, but I don't think that was the one. More likely it was the choirboys being trained. What struck me at the time was the draughtsmanship - strikingly good, but with occasional bizarrely exaggerated or even distorted limbs.
John Wexler
Col A 1954-62

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by Kit Bartlett » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:46 am

I was in the chapel choir for the first three years of my time in the Upper School from 1942-45 and therefore sat on the left hand side facing the altar
one block from the end. I cannot remember which picture I sat opposite however. Afterwards from 1945 Coleridge A sat in the seating at the other end
of the Chapel on the left again facing the altar which would agree with David Rawlins' s 'memories.

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by J.R. » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:11 pm

Coleridge B in the very early 1960's so sitting right next to the organ pit near the altar.

As far as the paintings are concerned, I haven't got a clue ! I never was really very impressed by them in my school days.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by Kit Bartlett » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:44 pm

I remember now that Coleridge A sat on the right hand side of Chapel at the front end facing the Altar during my time in the choir which would have been opposite Coleridge B . I recall that Peele A sat on the left hand side facing the altar where Coleridge A sat later. We had a good view of the
East End painting.

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by Adrian » Fri Dec 12, 2014 10:12 pm

Interesting article about the Brangwyn paintings here:

http://blog.tooveys.com/2014/12/frank-b ... al-school/
Maine A; Peele A 75-82

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:31 am

Re that article mentioned by Adrian:

I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that Upcott had provided the themes. This makes the cycle interesting from an art-historical point of view. It was normal in the Middle Ages, and not uncommon until the 18th century, for clients to say what they wanted the artist to paint, and to regard the artist as a craftsman who would interpret and implement their wishes. This is in complete contrast to the current view of art, namely that the artist is solely responsible for the content (and hopefully competent to carry it out, though that often seems secondary, and often enough he/she doesn't do the work him/herself -- Bridget Riley is a prime example). Of course there have always been jobbing portrait painters who would do what they were told, but Brangwyn was of far higher stature than that (whether you like his style is beside the point).
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: WHICH OF BRANGWYN’S PAINTINGS WERE YOU OPPOSITE AND IN WHICH YEARS?

Post by alterblau » Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:02 pm

A very warm "Thank you" to all who contributed to this thread or who read it and thought about the questions it posed. This is much appreciated, even though (so far) a deduction of Keith Douglas's place in Chapel cannot be made.

Every good wish for 2015 (and for long beyond). Alter Blau

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