Farewell to popular former galleries chief

Frank Constantine, Director of City Art Galleries, pictured in the Graves Gallery - 25th March 1982.
Frank Constantine, Director of City Art Galleries, pictured in the Graves Gallery - 25th March 1982.

A former director of Sheffield’s galleries who oversaw some of their most important acquisitions and built a national reputation for the city in the art world has died aged 95.

Frank Constantine OBE was director of Sheffield City Art Galleries from 1964 to 1982, and during his tenure led the reopening of the Mappin Gallery, as well as creating a strong art education programme.

A talented oil painter, he also sat on Arts Council panels - giving him influence over policy and access to the best touring exhibitions.

Frank’s daughter Anne said her father was a popular figure and that ‘art was his life’.

Acquisitions of note included pieces by French Impressionists such as Matisse, and a collection of Persian pottery.

Frank was born in Nether Green. His father, George Hamilton Constantine, was a well-known watercolour artist.

He went to Central School, and High Storrs School, then trained at Sheffield Art College and later at the Courtauld Institute in London.

During World War Two Frank served in North Africa, Palestine, Syria and Italy with the Royal Engineers, before being seconded to the intelligence services in 1944.

He started in the galleries as a conservator alongside his father and spent time as deputy director before taking the top job.

Frank married his wife Eileen in 1946, a year after meeting her in London.

They lived off Brocco Bank, where Frank stayed following Eileen’s death aged 89 five years ago.

Along with his OBE, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Sheffield University, along with a Sheffield Hallam Honorary Fellowship.

From 1991 to 2005 he was director of the Guild of St George, a charity for arts, crafts and the rural economy founded by John Ruskin.

Frank died on July 27 after suffering a haemorrhage at home. He is survived by Anne, as well as two sons, John and Malcolm, and a daughter, Jill.

The funeral takes place on August 21 from 2pm at St Mark’s Church, Broomhill.

An exhibition of Frank’s acquisitions is planned next year at the Graves Gallery.