I was recently shown a private art collection belonging to some people I know, that included a number of rare Edwardian paintings by leading members of The Newlyn School.
As a family legacy dating from a period before the first world war, these pictures represent a direct link with some illustrious names: Stanhope Forbes, Elizabeth Forbes, Alfred Munnings, Laura Knight, ‘Lamorna’ Birch, and Henry Scott Tuke amongst others.
They were handed down, father to son, by a man whose job it had been to collect rent on the Lamorna estate in Cornwall where the group lived and worked. Many of the pieces are ‘studio sweepings’ – discarded or unfinished paintings and drawings that the artists left lying around. Today, a century later, framed and on display, they create a fascinating window across time to an important artistic colony.
The Newlyn School, started in the 1880’s by Stanhope Forbes, continued well into the twentieth century. A group of English artists trained in Paris, these painters were first attracted to Brittany and then moved to Cornwall where they found similar light and topography. They lived and worked together, practising ‘plein air’ painting and attracting others to the group.
The largest collection of their work today, can be found in Penzance at the Penlee House Gallery and Museum.