Frank Brangwyn 1867 – 11 June 1956
St Columba Landing at Iona
Tempera on canvas, 228 x 227 cm (estimated)
Christ's Hospital Foundation, Horsham, Sussex
Largely self taught, Brangwyn was a most distinguished and successful artist in his time. He was a man of many talents
In his later years he mainly devoted himself to religious art
Brangwyn was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and he seems to have never deserted it
He created a number of Stations of the Cross
The art historian Libby Horner and leading expert on Brangwyn writes of the above painting of St Columba:
"Brangwyn probably gained the commission through his friend, the architect, Sir Aston Webb, who, with his partner E Ingress Bell, was the architect for the school.
The murals, on the subject of the Mission and Expansion of Christianity, beginning with the Acts of the Apostles and leading to the Conversion of our own Islands, and Foreign Missionary Work are placed in the school chapel"
In 1908, Edmonds in The Catholic Encyclopedia entry for St Columba (7 December 521 – 9 June 597) wrote:
"As far as can be ascertained no proper symbolical representation of St. Columba exists. The few attempts that have been made are for the most part mistaken. A suitable pictorial representation would exhibit him, clothed in the habit and cowl usually worn by the Basilian or Benedictine monks, with Celtic tonsure and crosier. His identity could be best determined by showing him standing near the shell-strewn shore, with currach hard by, and the Celtic cross and ruins of Iona in the background."
It would appear that it was only in 1920 that Brangwyn corrected this omission
The main source of information about Columba's life is the Vita Columbae by Adomnán (also known as Eunan), the ninth Abbot of Iona, who died in 704.