Frank Brangwyn and Diego Rivera
Painting Labour

'You don't just paint decorations ... we have to give a message'

This display foregrounds a set of panels made by Frank Brangwyn (1867 - 1956) for the Venice International exhibition in 1905, which were presented to the Gallery by the Leeds industrialist Sam Wilson in 1906.

Thirty-three years later, a set of four drawings made by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886 - 1957) for his Detroit Industry murals in 1932 also entered the Leeds collection. These drawings - a gift from the Contemporary Art Society - were the first works by Rivera to become part of a British public collection.

Brangwyn's panels and Rivera's drawings respond to the architectural environments for which they were made, and - in markedly different ways - address the themes of industry and labour.

While Brangwyn's panels depict industrial work from a perspective that idealises rural labour, Rivera, who focused on the production line at Detroit-based company Ford Motors, celebrated the potentially liberating uses of machinery in the work place.

Both works were made at critical points in the history of labour. Brangwyn's scheme coincided with the first failed Russian revolution, which was partly a response to the government's attempts to ban strikes and labour unions, while Rivera's murals were made during the Great Depression in the USA, a time of vast unemployment and industrial unrest.

This display echoes the original arrangement of Brangwyn’s panels in Venice where he designed the entire room with paintings by other artists hung below. The depiction of labour in these smaller works – by artists ranging from George Clausen to L.S. Lowry – extends to the early 1980s, a decade that marked the beginning of the end of Britain’s industrial economy.

Photograph of the work of art: Navvies at Work

Frank Brangwyn (1867 - 1956)

Navvies at Work
1904-1905
Oil on canvas
Presented by Sam Wilson, 1906
LEEAG.1906.0007.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Rolling Mill or The Workers in Steel

Frank Brangwyn (1867 - 1956)

The Rolling Mill or The Workers in Steel
1904-1906
Oil on canvas
Presented by Sam Wilson, 1906
LEEAG.1906.0008.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Blacksmiths

Frank Brangwyn (1867 - 1956)

The Blacksmiths
1904-1905
Oil on canvas
Presented by Sam Wilson, 1906
LEEAG.1906.0009.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Potters

Frank Brangwyn (1867- 1956)

The Potters
1904-1905
Oil on canvas
Presented by Sam Wilson, 1906
LEEAG.1906.0010.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Spinners

Frank Brangwyn (1867 - 1956)

The Spinners
1906
Oil on canvas
Presented by Sam Wilson, 1906
LEEAG.1906.0011.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Farmyard

George Clausen (1852 - 1944)

The Farmyard
1907
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0020.SW

Photograph of the work of art: In the Barn

George Clausen (1852 - 1944)

In the Barn
1902
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0022.SW

Photograph of the work of art: The Miller's Man

George Clausen (1852 - 1944)

The Miller's Man
1888
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0031.SW

Photograph of the work of art: A Peasant Woman

George Clausen (1852 - 1944)

A Peasant Woman
1872-1925
Pastel on paper
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0171

Photograph of the work of art: Homewards

Frederick Hall (1860 - 1948)

Homewards
c. 1888
Oil on canvas
Bought, 1889
LEEAG.1894.0030

Photograph of the work of art: Art Wars: Division and Design

John Hyatt (b. 1958)

Art Wars: Division and Design
1982
Emulsion primed canvas with acrylic, oil and household paints
Bought with the aid of a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 2013
LEEAG.2013.0154

Photograph of the work of art: The Paper Counters

Ghisha Koenig (1921 - 1993)

The Paper Counters
1951
Plaster
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1994
LEEAG.SC.1994.0026

Ghisha Koenig (1921 - 1993)

Calender Shop 1
1970
Bronze
Presented by Dr Emanual Tuckman, 2002
LEEAG.SC.2005.0014

Photograph of the work of art: Glassworks Panel VI

Ghisha Koenig (1921 - 1993)

Glassworks Panel VI
1985
Terracotta
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1994
LEEAG.SC.1994.0027

Photograph of the work of art: The Sluggard

Frederic Leighton (1830 - 1896)

The Sluggard
1890
Bronze
Purchased, 1904
LEEAG.SC.1904.0090

Photograph of the work of art: A Lancashire Cotton Worker

L.S. Lowry (1887 - 1976)

A Lancashire Cotton Worker
1944
Oil on board
Presented by Mrs M Arnold, 1961
LEEAG.1961.0002

Photograph of the work of art: Electricity, produced by Steam Turbine

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Electricity, produced by Steam Turbine
1932
Black lead on paper
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1938
LEEAG.PA.1938.0004.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Steam, produced by Coal

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

Steam, produced by Coal
1932
Black lead on paper
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1938
LEEAG.PA.1938.0004.0004

Photograph of the work of art: The Assembly of an Automobile

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

The Assembly of an Automobile
1932
Black chalk on paper
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1938
LEEAG.PA.1938.0004.0003

Photograph of the work of art: The Making of a Motor

Diego Rivera (1886-1957)

The Making of a Motor
1932
Black chalk on paper
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1938
LEEAG.PA.1938.0004.0001

Photograph of the work of art: The Cloth Dyers

Mark Senior (1864-1927)

The Cloth Dyers
Date unknown
Oil on canvas
Presented by Stanley Wilson, 1924
LEEAG.1924.0642

Photograph of the work of art: The Grindstone

Mark Senior (1864-1927)

The Grindstone
1900
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.1925.0152.SW

Photograph of the work of art: A Flemish Wash-House

Mark Senior (1864-1927)

A Flemish Wash-House
1907
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.1925.0151.SW