Postcards from Cornwall
At the same time as Impressionism was being established in France, a group of British artists were producing work in similar styles in a small Cornish fishing village. Like their counterparts on the Continent, these artists were mainly working en plein air to produce innovative work using the advancements in materials and techniques of the time and feeding on a change in the public's taste in subject matter. Their departure from the classical confines of the Royal Academy saw the artists celebrating every day people and scenes and using the same quickly-applied brushstrokes that painting in situ demanded to capture the essence of the light.
This group of British Impressionists became known as the Newlyn School - after the name of the fishing village - and included such artists as Stanhope Forbes, Harold Harvey, Walter Langley and Frank Bramley. 'Eyes and No Eyes' by Frank Bramley (shown on the left) is a particular favourite of mine. It is a large scale piece that excels in the square brush technique which sees broad, square brushes making a patchwork of marks that dance on the surface like sunshine itself. The light is beautifully captured especially in the depiction of the seafront in the background.
At its height, there were around 27 artists living and working in this small community in the far South West of Cornwall making waves in the artworld and stirring the imaginations of future generations.
Today Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance is home to many of their masterpieces and we made a return visit to it today on another rainy day in August!
Alongside some of the work in the permanent collection, the current featured exhibition showcases works by a later Newlyn School artist - Laura Knight. An impressive selection of her portraits, landscapes, charcoal drawings, etchings and commercial posters vividly demonstrates her talent and versatility.
Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance, Cornwall