Friday, 25 March 2011

Frank Martin (1921 - 2005) - Hollywood Prints

If you love the glamour of Hollywood's silent movie era then you will love the prints created by the British artist Frank Vernon Martin. All singing and dancing jazz age images with girls, architecture and dogs.

Until a little under 2 years ago I would have said who ?? but now we are completely hooked and have invested a great deal of time and money in promoting his works. We discovered him at a picture sale and just fell for them. I am sure we had seen his work before, but on this day our minds were open for the "wow factor" of glamour girls beautifully presented in showy gallery frames.

Time spent running up down the country to and from vendors and auctions. Time spent researching these girls, actresses certainly know how to live life to the full. Example; Ruby Keeler shown on the left was a Hollywood dancer actress famed for her role in 42nd Street and her on screen partnership with Dick Powell. She was in fact Mrs Al Jolson.

You will soon become aware of a theme that runs through Frank's work. What you ask ? and if you can't work it out have a look at the pencil sketch of Linda Darnell and you will see that some things are missing?

Lyda Roberti

But who was he ?? 

Frank Martin was born in Dulwich and educated at Uppingham School where he won a history scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford and in 1941 he enlisted in the Royal Artillery. In 1946 he entered the printing school at St Martin's School of Art, London, where he was taught etching by Clifford Webb and wood engraving by Gertrude Hermes. He also took instruction from John Buckland Wright. There are three masters of their art !

He elected to the Society of Wood Engravers in 1952 and from 1953 he was teaching etching, engraving, lino-cutting and graphic design at Camberwell School of Art. He was an excellent teacher and stayed until 1980, becoming senior lecturer in graphic design in 1965 and head of the graphic arts department from 1976 until his retirement.

His  commercial career  included; as a fashion illustrator for the Sunday Times, illustrator of  adverts and books, including; Ursula Bloom's 1959 novel, Youth At The Gate, The Readers' Digest Bedside Book Of The Art Of Living (1956), The Manual Of Catholic Prayer (1962) and the letterhead for Evelyn Waugh's stationery. He illustrated 12 book for the Folio Society including; Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Oscar Wilde’s Salome.

 Corrine Griffiths                                  Delores Costello    

Frank Martin was enthralled by the stars of the silver screen. His love of the iconography of film found expression in the Hollywood series he began in the 1960s. He worked with the grain of the wood turning glamorous screen stills into prints. The images included; Tallulah Bankhead, Clara Bow, Greta Garbo, Lillian Gish, Jean Harlow and Rita Hayworth as well as the Ziegfield Follies, the Keystone Cops and Montgomery Clift. These are perhaps his most celebrated work.

Ida Lupino                                   Glenda Farrell

He held 25 one-man shows from 1956. Exhibiting at the Folio Society, the National Film Theatre, the Lyric Theatre and the Leeds International Film Festival. Overseas, he exhibited in Berlin, Dublin, New Zealand and the United States. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1961, a member of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers in 1959 and an honorary academician of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno of Florence in 1965.

Mary Brian                                       Vilma Banky

He wrote several books. Some detailing his works such as Hollywood Continental, The Wood Engravings of Frank Martin and Drawn From Life, a series of reminiscences of his young female models. Hollywood Continental concentrates on the glamour of the art deco period and has a near complete listing of his printed works up to 1987. Also the rare limited edition "Shadowlands" book is a prize to be hunted for, again with glorious picture of film related prints with the story that inspired them.

Fontaines - edition of 8

His work can be found in public and private collections throughout the world including; the Tate Gallery and the collections of Elton John and Sir Michael Caine and his Daughter Mel Martin is an actor.

And his the recurring theme ?? I am not sure but I can't recall too many golden age of the silver screen goddesses just wearing their socks !! quite a few nipples pop out off his pictures.

There quite a few actresses and dancers to collect including; Jessie Matthews, Rita Hayworth, Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo, Carrol Lombard, Anita Page, Bessie Love, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Constance Bennett, Elissi Landi, Evelyn Brent, Madge Bellemy, Vera Zorina and Raquel Torres to name a few.

In addition he did series of art deco coastal landscapes and interiors, which included glamorous flapper type lounging around or walking their Borzoi. There have evocative names such as Riviera, Ventimiglia, Hispano Suiza, The Promenade and Mondaines.

His art was not limited to Hollywood glamour, he published other abstract images more typical of 1960's art, such as the one below, titled "Jan"

We will be exhibiting a selection of etchings, woodcuts and watercolour by Frank Martin at -
The Pavilions of Harrogate
Antiques & Fine Art Fair
Friday 31st October - Sunday 2nd November 2014
Click here for FREE tickets

For our current stock of pictures by Frank Martin -

Any questions or requests. Please email me at

We are always looking to buy works by this artist.

For more pictures of his work, try his books;
Shadowland, Pictures from a Silent Screen, Woodcuts & Drypoints
Frank Martin: Hollywood - Continental

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