Frank Morley Fletcher Biography

Frank Morley Fletcher




Frank Morley Fletcher, influential educator, author, painter, and printmaker, was born in Whiston, Lancashire, England on 25 April 1866. He was educated 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 he continued to assimilate the complexities, subtleties, and aesthetics of the Japanese woodblock print. Fletcher'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 was appointed to the position of inspector of all art schools in the South of England. Fletcher 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 Fletcher’s treatise, Wood-Block Printing, was published in London, the first mass printing in English of the technique of color woodcut. Many aspiring woodcut artists took guidance from his book in 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 move to America to teach, only to see the school fail in 1930 with the onset of the Depression. Fletcher relocated to Los Angeles where he continued to teach and paint and then moved to Ojai, California in the 1940s. 

Frank Morley Fletcher's influence was widespread and today his woodcuts are highly prized by collectors and are held in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Terra Foundation of American Art, Chicago; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca; the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; the Museum of the American Arts & Crafts Movement, St. Petersburg, Florida; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.; the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Massachusetts; and the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.

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