Frank Galsworthy lived and worked as an artist in Chertsey for most of his adult life, almost 70 years. He is known mainly for his paintings of flowers and plants, though he also produced a number of idyllic landscapes.
Galsworthy was born in Marylebone, London in 1863. He was the son of Sir Edwin Galsworthy and the cousin of John Galsworthy, the famous author of ‘The Forsythe Saga’. Frank pronounced the first syllable of his name like ‘pal’, whilst John preferred to say it like ‘ball’.
Frank trained and practised as an architect but his interests in painting led him to give up this career to develop his artistic talents. He moved to Chertsey in 1890, settling at Green Lane Farm and found contentment growing and painting flowers.
He was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and often exhibited his paintings of flowers at their shows. He won the Society’s gold medal for his paintings on a number of occasions, a prize traditionally awarded for plants. He became well known as a flower ‘portraitist’, recording rare breeds.
Galsworthy exhibited many times both in London and overseas, but was especially well received in America. During his 1924 visit there he was described as ‘one of England’s foremost artists’ and ‘England’s foremost landscape painter’. A newspaper assessment of his work by Alice Rice as ‘quiet and sound’ is perhaps more accurate. He did however attract some distinguished support, with purchases by Queen Mary and Princess Victoria from the Walker’s Galleries, London, in 1923.
Galsworthy was a traditional painter, working in watercolour, as he felt this retained the delicacy and charm of his subjects, which was lost by using oils. He eventually died in Chertsey in January 1959 at the grand age of 96. He requested that no flowers be used at his funeral because he cared for them too much to let them be cut for that purpose.