Catalogue size is 285 x 240 mm (portrait); 152 pages plus cover 91 works illustrated Foreword by Alison Bevan BA FMA (Director, Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance ) Introduction and informative text by Andrea Gates
As Director of the sole public gallery to celebrate the work of the Newlyn School, it gives me immense pleasure to write the foreword for this latest Messum’s publication, promoting their work and that of their British Impressionist friends, contemporaries and followers...
As Director of the sole public gallery to celebrate the work of the Newlyn School, it gives me immense pleasure to write the foreword for this latest Messum’s publication, promoting their work and that of their British Impressionist friends, contemporaries and followers.
The core of the Newlyn School developed in the eponymous Cornish fishing village in the 1880s. Artists imbued with the spirit of Bastien-Lepage and the Breton rural realists sought to portray the lives of the local fisherfolk, working ‘en plein air’ with deft square brush to capture the play of light on their models. As the 20th century dawned, subjects moved away from narratives of peasant life and concentrated purely on the effects of light on the landscape, with or without figures. Geographically, too, the focus shifted, with a separate artists’ colony forming in the Lamorna valley, and St Ives – some seven miles from Newlyn across the Penwith peninsula – rising to greater prominence.
Lauded and famed throughout the western world in their heyday, these Cornish artists fell into disregard in the mid 20th century, and paintings that had once been viewed as radical and challenging were rejected as being too decorative and accessible. One of the first steps towards addressing this injustice came with Messum’s pioneering ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ exhibitions in the 1970s, and ever since, Messum’s have been in the vanguard in bringing due recognition back to the work of these outstanding painters.
This catalogue represents both artists of the core Newlyn School, such as Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes, Walter Langley and Harold Harvey, and the later Cornish contingent, including S.J. Lamorna Birch, Julius Olsson, Terrick Williams, Dorothea Sharp, as well as those who ploughed their own furrow away from the main colonies, both in Cornwall (as in the case of Falmouth-based Henry Scott Tuke) or elsewhere (like Forbes’s school fellow and friend, H.H. La Thangue). What unites them all is a painterly concern with light, using expressive brush strokes to mimic the effect of light travelling through the atmosphere, to sumptuous effect.
As with so many of Messum’s exhibitions and catalogues, this collection helps to bring a better understanding of the merit of the work of the Newlyn School in the context of British Impressionism, and Penlee House is delighted to work alongside them towards exploring and promoting this field of art further.
Alison Bevan BA FMA Director, Penlee House Gallery