Francis Owen Salisbury, papers

Scope and Content

The Francis Owen Salisbury archive contains volumes of correspondence and other papers and volumes of photographs of his paintings. The volumes of correspondence and papers are thought to have been compiled, numbered and titled by Salisbury, it is unknown where the other volumes he compiled are today.

-Volume XVII, Royal procession and Guildhall coronation luncheon, 1937
Includes material concerning the painting of the Guildhall Coronation Picture and the Coronation Procession Picture. Includes official programmes and seating plans produced for these events (some of which are annotated), correspondence (including some with sitters), and photographs of the unveiling of the completed paintings. 1937-1939
-Volume XVIII, British Letters
Includes letters from individuals with the surnames A-M, includes portrait commissions, thank you letters and letters from friends. c 1904-c 1957

Volume XIX, British Letters
Includes letters from individuals with the surnames N-Z, includes portrait commissions, thank you letters and letters from friends. c 1908-c 1952

-Volume XXVII, Honours and elections
Includes correspondence relating to Salisbury's art training, scholarships, prizes and honours awarded. Also contains copies of certificates and announcements relating to Salisbury's career. 1893-1955

-Volume XXX, Exhibitions in Britain and America
Includes copies of private view cards, exhibition catalogues, contracts with exhibition organisers, press cuttings, correspondence relating to exhibitions, gallery plans and photographs of exhibitions. Also includes one folder of loose material. 1906-1955

-Volume XXXI, Letters - own book
Correspondence from individuals who had received a complimentary copy of the following works by Salisbury: 'The Art of Frank O. Salisbury' (1936); 'Portrait and Pageant' (1944); 'Sarum Chase' (1953). 1934-1961

The volumes of photographs consist of 38 numbered and 2 unnumbered albums (the latter two relate to exhibitions), the albums are organised by subject and include albums of portraits of women, war portraits, and portraits of children. The photographs were taken by A&C Cooper and represent a photographic record of the works of Salisbury, the leaves of the albums are annotated in the artists hand with sitter names. A typed list of contents is provided at the front of each album, this is thought to have been compiled immediately prior to their accession into the NPG archive.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Owen Salisbury (1874-1962) was born at Harpenden, Hertfordshire, the son of Henry Salisbury, plumber and glazier and his wife Susan Hawes. He was a delicate child and was mostly educated at home by his sister, Emmie. At fifteen he was apprenticed to his eldest brother James Salisbury at his stained glass works in St Albans. His brother would arrange for him to attend Heatherley's drawing academy in London three days a week. At eighteen Salisbury won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools, which he attended for five years winning several medals and awards including the Landseer scholarship which allowed him to travel to Italy in 1896.

Salisbury exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1899 until 1943, though to his great disappointment he was never offered membership of the institution. The first portrait he exhibited at the Academy was of Alice Maude, daughter of C. Colmer Greenwood, whom Salisbury married in 1901. They had twin daughters; Salisbury undertook a year's study of them which sharpened his skills in portraiture.

Salisbury was interested in Heraldry and pageantry; he was commissioned to create the mural 'The Trial of Katharine of Aragon' for the House of Lords and also produced murals for Chelsea town hall and works for the Royal Exchange and Liverpool town hall. He also painted the coronation of Kind George VI. In 1943 he was commissioned by the wartime government to paint 'The Signing of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty' to present to the USSR.

As a portrait painter Salisbury attracted distinguished clientele in both Britain and America. He painted the portraits of five US presidents, five British prime ministers and three archbishops of Canterbury. He became a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1917 and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1921.

Salisbury published his memoirs in 1944, they were titled 'Portrait and Pageant' (revised as 'Sarum Chase' in 1953) the same name as a large retrospective exhibition held at the Royal Institute Galleries in Piccadilly, London which was also held that year. Salisbury died at his home, Sarum Chase, Hampstead on 31 August 1962.

This biographical description is largely based on Maurice Bradshaw, 'Salisbury, Francis Owen (1874–1962)', rev. Charles Noble, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2014 [, accessed 18 April 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.