The Frank Owen Salisbury Papers: collection-level description

Scope and Content

The collection contains a large body of material generated and accumulated by the Methodist artist and portrait painter Frank Owen Salisbury during the course of a prolific career lasting for over sixty years. The archive includes several thousand letters, representing an extensive body of correspondence with a wide range of eminent people from politics, religion, business and the arts, relating to potential or actual commissions for Salisbury to paint a portrait or a work on associated historic theme. The correspondence includes autographed letters from Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clement Atlee, Harry S. Truman, Winston S. Churchill, Geoffrey Fisher, Samuel Parkes Cadman, Billy Graham, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis Mountbatten and members of the Rockefeller family.

The collection is divided into fifteen boxes of material as follows:

Box 1: Official and personal correspondence written by Salisbury to members of his wide circle of friends, family, acquaintances, and potential clients.

Box 2: Letters written to Salisbury; Transcripts of his radio addresses for the BBC, 1954-56; Ms notes on "Life and Art: Notes for Revision"; Letters and associated papers written in connection with the publication of Salisbury's book Proud Heritage, c.1950; Ms notes for Salisbury's autobiography - Portrait and Pageant; Ms notes from folder marked 'personal writings'; Letters, notes and cuttings on the theme of art and religion, c.1946-c.1950.

Box 3: Letters to Salisbury from Dr Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman (1878-1961) of Los Angeles, California; Papers relating to the distinguished English-born American Methodist and Congregational minister Samuel Parkes Cadman (1864-1936); Letters to Salisbury from the US diplomat (Ambassador to Russia) Joseph Edward Davies (1876-1958) and his wife Marjorie Post Davies, together with news cuttings, 1941-55; Letter to Salisbury from Bernard Bateson re the meeting between Salisbury and the American evangelist Billy Graham, together with an article entitled "Painter and the Evangelist", c.1956; Letters to Salisbury from the American industrialist and philanthropist John Davison Rockefeller junior (1874-1960) and members of his family, 1946-1960; Letters to Salisbury from the American industrialist and diplomat Myron Charles Taylor (1874-1959) and members of his family, 1925-1954; Letters written to Salisbury concerning the business of the World Methodist Council, with particular regard to the portrait of John Wesley painted by Salisbury and portaits of other Methodist worthies, including Francis Asbury, 1952-57.

Box 4: Letters and telegrams sent to Salisbury by the Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950), 1940-1950; Letters to Salisbury concerning his correspondence with William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1950-1954; Orders of memorial service and tributes following the death of William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1950; Notes on the presentation of Salisbury's portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1947; Black and white photographs of William Lyon Mackenzie King and some printed papers and news cuttings relating to his premiership, c.1938-1950; Letters to Salisbury by Evelyn I. Lewis, 1959-1960.

Box 5: Notes and illustrative material re the memorial panels on the Queen Victoria Memorial, Calcutta, c.1905; Illustration showing the design of the stained glass windows at Hudson Memorial Church in Bangalore, India, c.1920; Notes and illustrative material re the design of the stained glass window of the church at Secunderabad, India; Letters to Salisbury and illustrations of the design of the stained glass window I of the Wesleyan church (later cathedral of the Church of Southern India) at Medak, India, c.1927; Letters to Salisbury and illustrative material concerning the design of the stained glass window II of the Wesleyan church at Medak, India, c.1938, c.1950-1958; Correspondence of Frank Whittaker, Bishop of Medak, concening stained glass window III of the Wesleyan church at Medak, India, c.1947-1958; Miscellaneous papers concening stained glass window III of the Wesleyan church at Medak, India, c.1954-1957.

Box 6: Salisbury's drawings illustrating "The Lord's Prayer" and notes on the text of the same.

Box 7:Papers concerning Salisbury's illustrations of "The Lord's Prayer"; Letters from Sir Robert Evans; Letters from Ernest H. Benson; Miscellaneous correspondence; Letters written in response to the appearance of the book on "The Lord's Prayer"; Material relating to exhibitions in Gateshead and Kettering.

Boxes 8-10: Papers re Salisbury's involvement with the Royal Family and the painting of works of national importance 1949-53, including the following major commissions (the list is not exhaustive): Queen Philippa pleading with King Edward III for the lives of the burghers of Calais (1913), King Alfred the Great rebuilding the walls of the city of London (1920), God and St George (1915), To the honour of the women of Great Britain (1916), Boy Cornwell VC (1917), The passing of war (1917), The passing of Queen Eleanor (1918), The King and Queen's visit to battle districts of France (1918), King Peter of Serbia crossing the Albanian mountains (1919), National peace thanksgiving service on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral (1920) and Burial of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey (1921).

Boxes 11: Papers re Salisbury's painting of works of national importance, including material concerning the dedication of the American Roll of Honour, St Paul's Cathedral 1951-52 (includes autograph letters of Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower). The box also includes papers regarding an Arts Council dispute, 1948-54.

Boxes 12: Papers re Salisbury's work for churches and civic centres.

Boxes 13-14: Copies of portraits painted by Salisbury (arranged alphabetically by surname).

Boxes 15: Press proofs of The Art of Frank Salisbury by Aquila Barber and Life [and] Letters of a famous English artist" by N. Keith Bushell.

Administrative / Biographical History

Frank Owen Salisbury (1874-1962) was born at Harpenden in Hertfordshire, one of five sons of Henry Salisbury, plumber and glazier, and his wife, Susan Hawes. A delicate child, Salisbury was educated mostly at home. At the age of fifteen, he was apprenticed to his eldest brother James Salisbury, in a stained glass works in St Albans, and also attended Heatherley's drawing academy in London. At the age of eighteen, Salisbury won a scholarship at the Royal Academy Schools. During his five years at the institution, Salisbury won several medals and awards, including the Landseer Scholarship, which financed a visit to Italy in 1896.

Salisbury was quick to establish a reputation as a very talented artist and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1899 until 1943. From an early point in his career, Salisbury was drawn to scenes of pageantry and history. His painting of 1907, The Passing of Queen Eleanor, resulted in his being commissioned to paint a mural in the House of Lords; other commissions by local and central government followed, including works for town halls in Chelsea and Liverpool. He painted a number of works depicting great national events, including The Burial of the Unknown Warrior (1920) and The Signing of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty (1943). In addition to his large set-piece works, Salisbury was one of the most esteemed portrait painters of his generation and enjoyed an international reputation. His sitters included five British Prime Ministers, five Presidents of the United States and three Archbishops of Canterbury. A devout Methodist throughout his life, Salisbury frequently painted on religious subjects and biblical themes. His portrait of John Wesley was the result of detailed research and is considered to be one of the best likenesses of the Methodist patriarch. He also designed a number of stained glass windows for churches both in Britain and overseas and served as master of the Worshipful Order of Glaziers from 1933 to 1934.

A man of great personal charm and elegant demeanour, Salisbury counted some of his eminent sitters as friends as well as subjects. He was appointed Commander in the Royal Victorian Order in 1935 and cavaliere of the order of the Crown of Italy in 1936. Despite his eminence and society connections, Salisbury was never offered a membership in the Royal Academy, greatly to his disappointment. He published his memoirs in 1944 and died at his home in Hampstead, London, on 31 August 1962.

Salisbury was married to Alice Maude Greenwood (d.1951) in 1901. The couple had twin daughters.


Alison Peacock (Methodist Church archivist 1987-90) arranged and listed the collection. Gareth Lloyd (Methodist Church archivist from 1990) expanded this original list, but with some minor exceptions, the original arrangement has been preserved.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader. However, some material has been closed for Data Protection, confidentiality or copyright reasons; where applicable this is noted at item level in the catalogue. Other material which has not been read in detail by the cataloguing archivist may also be subject to access restrictions or closure; this is also noted at the relevant point in the catalogue, and readers are advised to contact the Library in advance if they wish to see any of this material.

The open part of the collection also contains personal data about living individuals, and readers are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 in their use of the material.

This finding aid also contains personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately.

Separated Material

The Imperial War Museum in London holds correspondence relating to Salisbury's painting of Jack Cornwell VC, 1916-1918

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

The majority of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The core of the collection consists of documents created and accumulated by Frank Owen Salisbury over a period of nearly sixty years, reflecting his work as an artist and his extensive network of friends and patrons. After his death, this material was deposited with the Methodist Church of Great Britain and now forms part of the collections of the Methodist Archives and Research Centre at the University of Manchester.


Frank Owen Salisbury, Portrait and pageant : kings, presidents and people ... [Reminiscences]. (London: John Murray, 1944).

In praise of flowers : reproductions of paintings by Frank Owen Salisbury, with text by Sir William Beach Thomas. (London: Evans Brothers, 1948).

The Lord's prayer : [Seven pictures by Frank Owen Salisbury with text by Sir Robert Charles Evans] (London: Evans Brothers, 1948).

Frank Owen Salisbury, Sarum chase (New and enlarged edition of Portrait and pageant) (London: J. Murray, 1953).

Nigel McMurray, Frank O. Salisbury "painter laureate" (AuthorHouse, 2003).