Frank Morley Fletcher Biography

Frank Morley Fletcher




Influential educator, author, painter, and printmaker, Frank Morley Fletcher was born in Whiston, Lancashire, England in 1866. His studies commenced at the University of London and his artistic training continued in England at St. John's Wood Art School and at the studio of Hubert Vos.

By 1888 Fletcher was in Paris and resumed his studies at Atelier Cormon, where he made the acquaintance of American artists Albert Herter and Fernand Lungren. During this interval he was introduced to Japanese woodblock prints. Returning to England, Fletcher began to cut blocks for J.D. Batten and was hired as the head of the art department at Reading University. During this time he assimilated the complexities, subtleties, and aesthetics of the Japanese woodblock print to which he had been introduced while in Paris. Fletcher's's first woodcut, "Meadowsweet" was produced in 1897. He was also deeply interested in the ideas and aesthetics of the Design and Industries Association and applied these ideals to his own work.

Returning to London, he held the position of inspector of all art schools in the South of England. He also was head of the Art Department of University College, Reading, between 1898-1906, where he taught woodcut artist Allen Seaby. He was appointed to the prestigious position of Director of the Edinburgh College of Art in 1907. In 1916 his treatise, Wood-Block Printing, was published in London, the first mass printing in English of the technique of color woodcut. Many early woodcut artists started using this book as their guideline to setting up a studio and printing.

in 1923 Herter and Lungren persuaded Fletcher to immigrate to the U.S. and direct the newly established School of the Arts in Santa Barbara, California. Unfortunately he gave up his pension in England to come to America to teach, only to see the school fail in 1930 with the Depression coming on. However, Fletcher's influence was widespread, and today his woodcuts are highly sought after by collectors and are held in numerous public collections, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the British Museum. 

Frank Morley Fletcher died in Ojai, California on 2 November 1949.