Frank H Mason produced a vast body of work during his long career. He left his early career as an engineer around 1895 to become a professional painter in Scarborough and there are many local East coast views painted by him at this time. But in 1900 he submitted a large watercolour to the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy, the first time he had done so.Entitled “The Power and Wealth of the Tyne”, it was hung on the line and Mason became on overnight success and his reputation was made. It last appeared at a Sotheby’s auction at Chester in 1983 and is today untraced. So where is “The Power and Wealth of the Tyne”? Please contact us with any information.
Frank Mason’s work as a commercial artist reached it zenith with his work for the railway and shipping companies in the interwar period. His reputation was made when the LNER gave him and four other poster designers exclusive design contracts between 1927 and 1932. The other four commercial artist were Frank Newbould, Tom Purvis, Austin Cooper and Fred Taylor. They became known as “The Big Five”.
A full catalogue raisonne of Mason’s railway posters containing much new research on their date of publication is included book Frank Henry Mason: Marine Painter and Poster Artist available through this website.
Mason also designed advertising artwork for the big shipping companies. Early work was for the Booth Line Shipping Company and then he worked for the Cunard Steamship Company, the Ellerman Lines and P&O Lines. For a comprehensive survey of British Railway Posters including works by Mason visit postertoposter.co.uk.
The Late Victorian period saw a revival in print making in Britain with exponents such as Francis Seymour Hayden, James McNeill Whistler, and Sir Frank Short creating a market for work made with the needle rather than the brush.
Mason may well have learnt how to print the copper plates he etched through the writing of Sir Frank Short and commenced print making around 1910. He had soon set up an etching press at his Marine Parade Studio in Scarborough publishing etchings of local views to satisfy a keen local demand.
Later after the Great War he published 23 drypoint etchings through the offices of the Fine Art Trade Guild. All 23 prints are fully illustrated in the forthcoming book entitled Frank Henry Mason: Marine Painter and Poster Artist soon available on this website
With the demise of the etching market in 1929 a change in collector taste led to a demand for limited edition or standard edition colour prints.
Frank Mason published a group of such prints through the Sporting Gallery, during the 1930s - these were issued with titles such as "Landfall" and "When Eight Bells Toll" - see above and above left.
Mason not only built accurate scale models of old naval ships and clippers ships but also restored and collected historic ship models. They were kept in his studio and were so useful to him when he came to paint his historical marine picturesIn 1935 he wrote a book entitled Ship Model Making: The Brig. The models he built were sold through the Sporting Gallery.
Do you have any of these models by Mason? Please contact us.