Ralph Brown

0
Have your say

WITH a sculptural career lasting over 60 years, the Royal Academician Ralph Brown who has died aged 85 rose to prominence in the 1950s, standing out as a master of human anatomy.

His mother from Yorkshire and father from Philadelphia, Mr Brown was born in Leeds, the youngest of three brothers.

His early artistic development was encouraged by his father, an amateur water-colourist, and along with his contemporaries, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Kenneth Armitage, he was profoundly influenced by his upbringing in Leeds, gaining an eye for form within his industrial surroundings.

Like Moore, who befriended him and encouraged him by buying his work, his art was rooted in the figurative tradition.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, when abstraction prevailed in British sculpture, he remained faithful to it, standing out among his contemporaries as one of the most accomplished sculptors of human anatomy.

In the introductory catalogue essay for his major retrospective show at Leeds City Art Gallery in 1988, the museum director and art historian Dennis Farr wrote that much of his work was influenced by his searching for ways to express sensual experiences.

After serving in the Royal Air Force, Mr Brown attended the renown Leeds School of Art, going on to study at the Royal College of Art.

He won a number of scholarships, including a trip to Paris where he met and worked closely with many influential artists of the 20th century, principally the Russian sculptor and painter Ossip Zadkine – whose studio he worked in – and the Swiss sculptor and painter, Alberto Giacometti.

In 1957 he won the Boise Scholarship to Italy and studied Etruscan Sculpture. He also worked in Cannes, making mosaics for Picasso.

Mr Brown came to national prominence in the late 1950s with his large-scale bronze group Meat Porters, commissioned for Harlow New Town, Essex.

He was first married to Margaret Taylor, and they had a daughter who was born in 1955. In 1965 he and his second wife, Caroline, had a son.

Mr Brown taught at Bournemouth College of Art, the Royal College of Art and other prestigious institutions, finally giving up teaching to move to a derelict farmhouse in the South of France in 1973, returning to the UK two years later.

He continued to produce sculptures throughout his later life and was elected a Royal Academician in 1972; his work can be found in many public collections including the Tate Collection, London, the Arts Council of Great Britain, Bristol City Art Gallery and the National Museum of Wales.

Mr Brown is survived by his wife Caroline and their daughter Sara and son Jasper.

Back to the top of the page