DAVISON, Francis Douglas

1919 - 1984

Francis Davison

Francis Douglas Davison, was born in London on 9 June 1919, adopted son of George Davison, who made his fortune as a managing director of Eastman Kodak. He studied at Cambridge where he read English and anthropology but began as a poet. He married at All Saints, Knighsbridge in 1944, 19 year old Brenda Trevor Roberts, but this was a short-lived marriage. Artist Margaret Mellis (1914-2009 q.v.), who in 1946, divorced fellow artist Adrian Stokes (1902-1972), who left their home at Carbis Bay, Cornwall, when Margaret invited Patrick and Delia Heron to stay with her and they in turn in 1946 invited recently divorced friend, Francis Davison to join them in Cornwall when Davison turned to painting. Francis and Margaret, struck up a friendship, married in 1948 and were rarely separated thereafter. The couple spent three years at Davisonís fatherís chateau on the Cap díAntibes in the South of France before returning to England and in 1950, settled at Walberswick, Suffolk and it was not until then that Davisonís artistic career began in earnest. His landscape paintings of this time betray the impact of Cornwall in their economy of colour and descriptive elements and are close to the work of William Scott (1913-1989) and Roger Hilton (1911-1975). By 1952, Davison had begun to work in collage and never returned to the brush again. His first exhibition was at Roland, Browse and Delbanco in 1955 at which nothing sold. He thereafter worked almost invisibly for 25 years before having a one-man show at the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield in 1981, and another one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1982. Davison was also included in several group shows and his works have been exhibited regularly at the Redfern Gallery, London, which held a retrospective of his collages in 1986. When he exhibited at the Hayward Gallery in 1983, he excluded dates and titles from all of the collages on show and requested that no biographical information be included in the catalogue. The paper is more often torn, than cut, which creates movement and a feeling of freedom in the compositions. Davison was happy to limit himself to the available paper colours and worked within that palette. In comparison, painters have infinite choices for colour variations and combinations. He died at Walberswick in 1984, aged 65. Francis Davison has still to be fully acknowledged as one of the major British abstract artists and colourists of the 20th century. [Francis Davison by Andrew Lambirth 2014]




Works by This Painter