Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/255

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Franks
Fraser
243

friend and colleague, Sir Charles Newton [q. v. Suppl.], and in connection with the academy also he was a trustee of the British Institution scholarship fund. He was a member of the Roxburghe Club, and his labours in completing the monumental work on playing-cards by Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Schreiber [q. v.], whom blindness overtook with her task unfinished, led the Company of Cardmakers to elect him of their body. His frequent journeys to the continent caused him to be as well known abroad as at home, and he was an honorary member of the principal foreign learned societies.

Franks died in London, unmarried, on 21 May 1897, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. A bronze medallion profile portrait, life-size, by C. J. Prsetorius, is at the Society of Antiquaries, and another in the British Museum.

Retiring in disposition, with a strong dislike to public demonstrations and public speaking, Franks was a true student, a gatherer of knowledge for its own sake, as well as for the purposes of his work. His training made his knowledge wider and more general than is possible for men of a later and more specialised generation. On the other hand, an unusual power of concentration on a definite subject, which was a character of his work, gave him at the same time the minute knowledge of the specialist. He was proud of the honourable traditions of the museum, and always preferred the old methods to any change that might involve loss of the ancient dignity of the institution. That his ambition, within its walls, was entirely limited to the perfecting of his own department is clearly seen in his refusal of the post of principal librarian in 1878, while in like manner he on two occasions declined the directorship of the South Kensington Museum.

Besides the bequests to the British Museum Franks left books to the Society of Antiquaries. In them has been inserted a specially designed book-plate, which includes a three-quarter bust of Franks.

Franks's chief publications were: 1. 'Book of Ornamental Glazing Quarries,' London, 1849. 2. 'Examples of Ornamental Art in Glass and Enamel,' 1858. 3. 'Himyaritic Inscriptions from Southern Arabia,' 1863. 4. 'Catalogue of Oriental Porcelain and Pottery,' 1876 and 1878. 5. 'Japanese Pottery,' 1880. 6. 'Catalogue of a Collection of Continental Porcelain,' 1896. He edited Kemble's 'Horæ Ferales,' 1863 ; and Hawkins's 'Medallic Illustrations of British History,' 1886.

[Private information.]

C. H. R.

FRASER, ALEXANDER (1827-1899), landscape painter, son of Alexander George Fraser and his wife Janet W. Moir, was born at Woodcockdale, near Linlithgow, on 3 Nov. 1827. His father, a gentleman of private means, was an amateur of ability, and from him Fraser received some instruction in art before he entered the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh, at the age of seventeen. But he learned more by working from nature and copying in the gallery and from his fellow-students than from masters. Among these early friends one of the closest was Sir William Fettes Douglas [q.v. Suppl.], with whom he made many sketching excursions. An earnest student of nature, and from very early in his career a remarkably able craftsman, his work soon attracted attention; in 1858 he was elected associate, and four years later full member, of the Royal Scottish Academy. Although he spent the winters of ten years (1847-57) in London, and for several seasons painted in Wales and in Surrey, where he did some of his most brilliant work, he lived and painted for the most part in Scotland. Loch Lomondside, Argyllshire, where he had spent part of his youth, and the Hamilton district, where in Cadzow forest he found material peculiarly suited to his taste, were favourite sketching grounds ; but from 1885, after which he was partially disabled by a severe rheumatic affection, his subjects were taken principally from the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. On 24 May 1899 he died at Musselburgh, leaving a widow (Jean, daughter of Thomas Duncan [q. v.]), whom he married in 1859, a son, and a daughter.

Fraser's early work is remarkable for the wealth and truth of its detail, and that of his maturity combines delicacy of finish in essential parts with breadth of conception and great power of handling, while, among Scottish painters, he was almost the first to render the purity and intensity of local colour. His technical method was very direct and sound ; he drew with spirit and incisiveness, and his colour is usually full, varied, and harmonious. Compared with the landscape of his contemporaries, his is remarkable for freedom from convention, particularly in colour and design. Almost exclusively a landscape painter, he delighted in woodland and river scenery ; but he also painted a number of very fine interiors and still-life studies, and usually introduced figure incident into his landscapes. The work produced during the last fifteen years of his life is, owing to the physical weakness referred to, quite unrepresentative of his talent.