Francis Owen Salisbury (1874-1962). The Joy of Motherhood (1934): A portrait of the artist's daughter and her son. Signed and Dated. Oil on canvas laid to board. Circular, 74cm (29in) diameter. Mounted in a magnificent, elaborately carved and pierced gilt wood frame (Frame dimensions: 111cm wide by 106cm high (43.5 x 41.75in) overall)
PROVENANCE: By direct family descent from the artist to the previous owner. A faint chalk inscription on the reverse of this painting refers to it as the property of Leonard Norris, who was the son-in-law of the artist.
CONDITION: In fine, unrestored, condition. Quickly and therefore fairly thinly painted on a thickly woven canvas, the texture of the canvas is quite visible. There are a few minor blemishes around the edge but nothing requiring attention. The frame was probably custom made or adapted to fit a specific height of wall, or perhaps directly over a mantlepiece. The outer section at the upper edge (or this could be the lower edge if the painting were rotated through 180 degrees) is absent. Considering how the ends of the adjacent edges are rounded, this was clearly intended. The remaining outer sections could be removed if desired, but in our view the current form does not detract or distract from the whole at all.
BIOGRAPHY: Francis Owen Salisbury was born in 1874 in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England. At 15 he became an apprentice in a stained glass workshop owned by his brother, who recognised his talent and sponsored his attendance at Heatherley's School of Art. There, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools, where he won medals and scholarships, including the Landseer scholarship, which enabled him to further his studies in Italy.
Salisbury married Alice Maud in 1901 and they had twin daughters. It was his custom to paint portraits of his daughters every morning and this helped to develop the skills which led to him becoming the first artist commissioned to paint HM Queen Elizabeth II and no less than twenty-five members of the Royal Family sat for him. He also painted more portraits of Winston Churchill than any other artist.
The American Ambassador, John W Davis, encouraged Salisbury to visit the United States, where he painted many notables, including six Presidents. His portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt remains the official White House portrait. Other notables he painted while in the US included Myron C. Taylor, Will Keith Kellogg, Edward Stephan Harkness, Elbert Henry Gary, Henry Clay Folger, Andrew William Mellon, John Pierpont Morgan, George Mortimer Pullman and John D. Rockefeller Jr.
In addition to portraits, Salisbury painted many historical subjects and major events and continued to work with stained glass.
He exhibited 70 paintings at the Royal Academy, the first of which was of his wife, Alice. Major collections of his work are held by the National Portrait Gallery in London, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Royal Air Force Museum, Chicago Historical Society and the World Methodist Headquarters.
Salisbury died in 1962 at his home in Hampstead, London.
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