Frampton, Sir George James
- Tancred Borenius
- , revised by Andrew Jezzard
Sir George James Frampton (1860–1928)
Frampton, Sir George James (1860–1928), sculptor and craftsman, was born at 91 Brook Street, Lambeth, London, on 18 June 1860, the second son of James Frampton, a journeyman stonemason, of London, and his wife, Teresa, née Llanfield. He received his first artistic training in 1880–81 at the South London Technical Art School under the sculptor William S. Frith, and between 1881 and 1887 he studied at the Royal Academy Schools, while producing decorative and ornamental sculpture for a variety of clients. His first entrance into the sculptural profession came in 1878 when he worked as a stonemason on the hôtel de ville (town hall) in Paris. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1884, showing Socrates Teaching the People in the Agora; in 1887 An Act of Mercy won for him the academy gold medal and travelling studentship.
From 1888 to 1889/90 Frampton studied sculpture in Paris under Antonin Mercié, at the time a master of far-reaching influence, and painting under P.-A.-J. Dagnan-Bouveret and Gustave Courtois. On his return to London he worked briefly as an assistant to the important establishment sculptor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm. Frampton's first love was architecture and he provided decoration for a number of buildings in London in the 1880s, notably the façades of the Chelsea Conservative Club (c.1885) and the Constitutional Club in Northumberland Avenue (1885–6), both destroyed. That he turned to sculpture, however, was due to his having looked at the monuments in Westminster Abbey. His Angel of Death gained him a medal at the Paris Salon of 1889. The last notable work of his early manner is a group, The Children of the Wolf (Victoria Museum, Calcutta), the plaster of which was shown at the 1892 Royal Academy exhibition (bronze version 1893). In April 1893 he married the painter Christabel Cockerell (1863–1951), daughter of George Russell Cockerell, of London; they had one son, Meredith Frampton (1894–1984) [see Frampton, (George Vernon) Meredith], also a painter.
At the beginning of the 1890s Frampton felt a powerful attraction to the arts and crafts movement, and he soon began to produce works in which the element of craftsmanship is strongly accentuated, often managing to fuse the decorative arts with the fine arts. He also felt the influence of contemporary European symbolism, as is apparent in his bas-relief Mysteriarch (1893, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) which was awarded the médaille d'honneur at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. He exhibited with the symbolists on a number of occasions, notably at the Venice Biennale of 1897, La Libre Esthétique in Brussels, and the first Vienna Secession in 1897.
Frampton was closely associated with the art magazine The Studio from its inception in 1893, and he contributed to it several articles on subjects such as enamelling, goldsmiths' work, wood-carving, and polychromed sculpture. More particularly through The Studio he wielded very great influence on the rise of the late nineteenth-century style of decorative design in Germany, which, from the title of the magazine which sponsored it, has become known as Jugendstil. Peculiarly characteristic of Frampton from this time onward is the combination of different materials in one work: for instance, bronze and marble in his 1897 statue (one of his best works) of Dame Alice Owen (d. 1613) for Owen's School in Islington, London (now in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire); and ivory and bronze adorned with jewels in his bust Lamia (1900, Royal Academy of Arts, London).
Frampton's career was one of almost unbroken and resounding success: he was elected an ARA in 1894 and an RA in 1902, his diploma work a marble bust of the marchioness of Granby (his intention was to execute it in lavish polychromy); in 1908 he was knighted; and he received numerous other honours—he was created an honorary LLD at St Andrews University (1894), was made master of the Art-Workers' Guild (1902), was one of the founding signatories of the Society of British Sculptors (1904), becoming its president in the year it became a royal society (1911–12), and was a member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission from its foundation in 1924. The work for which Frampton is perhaps best-known is his statue of Peter Pan (1912) in Kensington Gardens, London.
His other important works include a series of statues of Queen Victoria in Calcutta, Southend, St Helens, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds, and Winnipeg, Canada; and several public monuments in London, notably statues of Quintin Hogg (1906) in Langham Place and Edith Cavell (1920) in St Martin's Place—the latter being dismissed by critics at the time—and a characteristic bronze bas-relief memorial to Sir W. S. Gilbert (1913) in the Victoria Embankment wall on the north side of Waterloo Bridge. He also executed the sculptures (1909) in the spandrels of the main entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the two couchant stone lions (1914) in front of the Edward VII wing of the British Museum. Among other noteworthy works are the portrait busts of George V and Queen Mary in the Guildhall, London; the sculptural decoration on the front of the Lloyd's Register building in the City; the saints on the chantry of William of Wykeham in Winchester Cathedral; some figures on the spire of St Mary's Church, Oxford; the figure of St George on the South African War memorial at Radley College, Oxfordshire; the statue of Edward VI at Giggleswick School, Yorkshire; the monument to the shipbuilder Charles Mitchell at Newcastle upon Tyne; the sculptural decoration on the façade of the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum; and the statues of Queen Mary in the Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta, and Government House, Delhi. The Tate collection has a bronze bas-relief portrait of the illustrator Charles Keene, cast after Frampton's death. Among the medals which Frampton modelled are the City Imperial Volunteers medal for the corporation of the City of London (1901) and the Coronation Medal of Edward VII (1902). He also made a number of fine enamelled pieces of arts and crafts jewellery, chiefly as gifts to his wife but shown at the Royal Academy in 1898. Frampton died on 21 May 1928 at his home at 91 Carlton Hill, St John's Wood, London; he was survived by his wife.
- A. Jezzard, ‘The sculptor Sir George Frampton’, PhD diss., U. Leeds, 1997
- A. Jezzard, ‘“An all-round craftsman”: George Frampton's church monuments’, Journal of the Church Monuments Society, 11 (1996)
- A. Jezzard, ‘George Frampton: art worker/medallist’, The Medal, 24 (1994)
- S. Beattie, The New Sculpture (1983)
- B. Read, Victorian sculpture (1982)
- T. Stevens, ‘George Frampton’, Patronage and practice: sculpture on Merseyside, ed. P. Curtis (1989), 74–85
- CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1928)
- b. cert.
- d. cert.
- The Times (22 May 1928)
- Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, photographs
- V&A NAL, corresp. and papers
- G. J. Frampton, self-portrait, pencil drawing, 1894, NPG
- G. C. Beresford, two photographs, 1902, NPG
- M. Beerbohm, pencil drawing, 1908, U. Texas, Texas
- M. Frampton, oils, 1919, NPG [see illus.]
- W. Stoneman, photograph, 1924, NPG
- B. Partridge, pencil drawing, 1927, NPG
- S. J. Solomon, portrait, exh. RA 1928
- W. Strang, portrait, Art Workers Guild, London
Wealth at Death
£70,316 4s. 2d.: probate, 30 June 1928, CGPLA Eng. & Wales
- Frampton, Sir George James, (16 June 1860–21 May 1928), sculptor; an Honorary Life Member of the Oxford Union Society, 1904; Hon. Associate, Royal Institute of British Architects; Member Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Milan; past Master of the Art Workers’ Guild; President Royal Society British Sculptors, 1911–12 in Who Was Who
- Frampton, Sir George in Oxford Art Online