FRANK MOSS BENNETT
Frank Moss Bennett was a portraitist and genre painter, specializing in ‘historical genre’ painting, defined as a work that is set in the past and depicts everyday life in a historical setting.
He was born in Liverpool, England in 1874, the second of four boys. He was wealthy, his father being a philanthropist and later Mayor of Liverpool. Bennett showed a talent for painting at an early age, but did not decide to pursue a career in art until after leaving Clifton College in Bristol in 1892 for the Slade School of Art in London. There he met his travel partner, future brother-in-law, and fellow artist, Eddie Wells. At the Slade School Bennett and his peers were taught by such notable artists as Henry Tonks and John Singer Sargent. Bennett joined the Royal Academy School of Art in 1896, where he won a gold medal and a travel scholarship for a lithograph he made. He finally used his scholarship money around 1900 to travel to Italy with Wells for almost a year.
He returned to London and continued to study and paint mostly portraits. In 1907 Bennett married Margaret Pellew, daughter of a wealthy family in Devonshire, and had two children.
Bennett was a talented portrait artist, painting everyone from royalty, to his family, but it was through historical genre painting that he is most well known. The artist took great care in ensuring the accuracy of his paintings, building replicas of antique furniture, and dressing his models in clothing appropriate for the era depicted. Also popular were paintings of Cardinals in their private quarters, which had a light and humorous air many enjoyed at the time. Additionally, Bennett painted posthumous portraits from photographs, mainly for the grieving families of fallen British soldiers killed during World War One.
Bennett exhibited many places throughout his lifetime, including the Royal Academy from 1898 to 1928 and the Paris Salon. He also achieved commercial success when his paintings and prints were used on calendars and for the covers of both Country Life and Vogue magazines.
Bennett stayed in London until 1938, when he decided to move to a large farm in Devon. He continued to paint until his death in 1952.