Frank Dobson RA (1886 - 1963)
RA Collection: People and Organisations
The sculptor Frank Dobson was born in London in 1886. He lived in East London up to the age of fourteen, when his father – also an artist – died and Dobson went to live with an aunt in Hastings. After leaving Hastings, Dobson studied and worked in Devon, Cornwall, Scotland and London until 1915 when he enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles. Dobson was discharged on medical grounds in 1917, allowing him to resume his career as an artist.
After World War I, Dobson took a studio in Chelsea which he occupied until 1939 when he moved to Bristol and subsequently Kingsley, Hampshire. He exhibited widely in the 1920s, including the Group X exhibition of 1920 and the exhibitions of the London Group of which he was president from 1924 to 1927.
During this period Dobson was among the most adventurous of British sculptors. The leading critic Roger Fry described his work as ‘true sculpture and pure sculpture’, although since his death Dobson’s reputation has since suffered in comparison with his contemporaries Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. This may be because over time the angularity of Dobson’s early work later gave way to a softer, more sensual style. Also, a serious injury sustained in 1933 severely restricted Dobson’s ability to carve and this undoubtedly reduced his output in later years.
After World War II Dobson was appointed head of sculpture at the Royal College of Art (1946), was elected as a Royal Academician (1951), and received the CBE (1947). He died in London in 1963.
Born: 18 November 1886 in London, England, United Kingdom
Died: 22 July 1963
Elected ARA: 17 February 1942
Elected RA: 15 April 1953
Preferred media: Sculpture