Born in London, Robert Anning Bell began his artistic training in an architect’s office. He studied at the University College School, the Westminster College of Art, and the Royal Academy Schools. Later, he spent some time in Paris.
Bell launched his career with a focus on sacred art. Sharing a studio with Sir George Frampton in their early years, they produced a series of designs for an altarpiece which was exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society and later installed in the Church of St Clare, Liverpool.
Examples of his mosaics can be found in Westminster Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament. His stained glass artwork includes the Shakespeare window in the Manchester Reference Library.
A multi-disciplined creator, Bell worked, aside from his painting and stained glass, as an instructor at the Liverpool University school of architecture, was associated with the Della Robbia Pottery, and also was successful as a book designer and illustrator, chief of the design section at the Glasgow School of Art, and professor of design at the Royal College of Art.
The Royal Academy, UK writes of this painting:
“Robert Anning Bell’s painting shows the Virgin Mary leading a procession of holy women into Christ’s tomb (or sepulchre) on the day following the Crucifixion. The women carry fragrant oils to anoint the body and Mary Magdalen, identified by her long red hair, can be seen on the right holding a jar of myrrh.
Anning Bell specifically chose this quiet moment just before the women discover that Christ’s body has disappeared. The painting has an air of solemn piety evoked by the cool, subdued colours, frieze-like composition and barren landscape. The artist also worked as a sculptor, illustrator and designer of stained glass and mosaics. Here, the colouring and simplicity of design indicate his interest in low relief sculpture and Italian Renaissance frescoes.”
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