Frank Archer was born in Walthamstow on 30 June 1912. He grew up in Eastbourne, attending the local grammar school and first studying at the local school of art. He trained for an Art Teacher's Diploma at Brighton School of Art (1932), and then took up a place at the Royal College of Art (1934-38). The engravings that he produced as a student won him the coveted Prix de Rome (1938) and led to his election to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (ARE 1940, RE 1960). Though his stay in Italy was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War, he was still greatly influenced by the artistic tradition and appearance of the country.
So in his early paintings, he employed decorative, fresco-like compositions, into which he injected an edge of menace approptiate to the times. The strategy now seems to parallel the contemporary Neo-Romantic approach of an artist like Michael Ayrton.
After the war, Archer taught at Eastbourne School of Art, and later at Kingston College of Art, eventually becoming its head. Though he continued to use some kinds of printmaking, his essential development was as a painter with a breadth of vision. He harnessed his love of the intense colour of mediaeval stained glass in order to create visual abstractions of favourite works of music. But he worked concurrently in a figurative mode, depicting a range of musicians in performance, from orchestra to soloist, and sustaining an interest in landscape. Following his retirement from teaching in 1973, he returned to Eastbourne, where he continued to paint. The Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours elected him as a member (ARWS 1971, RWS 1976) and mounted a retrospective of his work at the Bankside Gallery (1990). He died 31 March 1995.