Frank Saltfleet was one of Sheffield’s best-known artists, yet today his work is largely overshadowed by that of his wife, Jean Mitchell.
He was a specialist in watercolour painting, and about 18 months before his death an exhibition of his works was held at the Graves Art Gallery.
Alderman J.G. Graves also presented a group of Frank’s pictures to the city, and in the 1930s were on view at the Mappin Art Gallery.
He was, by profession, a landscape painter, but also keenly interested in music, literature, and drama.
Born in Sheffield in 1860, he was sent to St George’s National School, and when he was about 12-years-old, entered the silver trade to learn the art of close plating, later being apprenticed to a cabinet maker.
Frank attended the Mechanics’ Institute in Surrey Street, where his teacher was Mr Read Turner, a well-known Sheffield artist. Some time later he accepted an offer to advance the necessary funds for six months’ study in art at Antwerp, and with several other young Sheffield artists he went to the Academy of Arts there.
His travels included tours of Italy, the Adriatic, and several visits to Venice.
Frank was quite out of sympathy with the works of ultra-modernists in any art, and his favourite composers were Mozart and Beethoven. The works of Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, Marlowe and Greene had an appeal to him.
He had several pictures accepted at the Royal Academy, but they were never hung and on many occasions his work was to be found in local exhibitions. Once or twice he exhibited watercolours at the Cutlers’ Hall.
His tastes lay chiefly in the direction of landscapes and seascapes, and woodland and moorland pictures.
“A land and riverscape artist with more than a local reputation. Some of his best pictures have the atmospheric charm of the not too hazy impressionist school. In social circles Mr Saltfleet sings drolly. He is that strange thing – an artist without the professional pose. He has less ambition than many of his inferiors,” said the Sheffield Independent in 1902.
Frank was well known in Sheffield as an enthusiastic amateur actor, taking part in several local productions.
For many years he was a Freemason, attaining a few honours, the chief of them being that of Past Master of St. Leonard’s Chapter at Tapton Hall.
Frank married twice, and after his death in 1937 was survived by his second wife, who was Miss Jean Mitchell, daughter of Young Mitchell, who was the first Principal at the Sheffield School of Art.