Monday, February 21, 2011

THE FATHER OF THE NEWLYN SCHOOL OF ART




Forbes Stanhope Self Portrait
From penleehouse.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Unknown photographer
Given by Marion Harry Spielmann, 1939
National Portrait Gallery, London at npg.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Photo by Felix H. Man (Hans Baumann)
Vintage print, 1934
Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery
From npg.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Maude Clayton Forbes (née Palmer)
Photo by Felix H. Man (Hans Baumann)
Vintage print, 1934
Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery
From npg.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857-1947) was born the son of a railway manager in Dublin. His uncle was noted art collector James Staats Forbes who also worked for the railways. In 1876 Forbes enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools in London and in 1880 went to Paris to study at Leon Bonnat's studio.
(squidoo.com)


A Street in Brittany (Cancale)
Oil on canvas, 1881
The Walker, Liverpool, England
jpg: net
From jssgallery.org


In 1881 Forbes accompanied his friend, Henry La Thangue, painting in Brittany – first in Cancale, then in Quimperlé. It was in Cancale that he first made a name for himself with this painting ‘Street In Brittany’, above, as it was bought by James Maddocks, a wealthy Bradford industrialist in '82, whom in turned exhibited his collection, including this Forbes at the Royal Academy in 1883.
(Fine Art Cornwall)


A Street in Newlyn
Oil on canvas, 1885
Public collection
From ARC at artrenewal.com


A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach
From artmight.com


While in France Forbes was also introduced to the out-of-doors style of painting for which he became known. He was the founder of the Newlyn School and his subjects consist primarily of every day Victorian life. In the 1880's Forbes goal became to paint the history of a fishing village and he found the ideal setting on Newlyn in Cornwall. Later, other artists would move to the area including Sir George Clausen as well as Forbes future wife Elizabeth Armstrong. During this period, Forbes produced his most famous painting, Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach (above). The painting was met with positive criticisms when exhibited at the Royal Academy, and established his reputation as a painter.
(squidoo.com)


Preparations for Market Quimperle Brittany
From artmight.com


In comparison to his contemporaries, his Breton career was not only short but also concentrated. The paintings from this period can be counted on one hand. His two main paintings from 1883, Preparations for the Market, Quimperlé, above, and Fair Measures: a shop in Quimperlé were both exhibited at the Royal Academy the following year. Both were rather similar in subject matter and treatment. Forbes, in a letter to his mother, was concerned that one at least should be regarded as being too blue. An Art Journal critic who noted that Preparations for the Market was too blue and shadowless to be really true to nature noticed this point. Preparations for the Market is now in the Dunedin Art Gallery, New Zealand. It is illustrated in 'Victorian Social Conscience', an exhibition held in New South Wales in 1976.


The Health of the Bride
Oil on canvas, 1889
Tate Gallery, London
The estate of Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Bridgeman Art Library
From jssgallery.org


The Health of the Bride, above, reflects many of the aims of the Newlyn artists at the time. Forbes has chosen to use non-professional models and a recognisable site, the local inn in Newlyn. In addition, he includes evidence of the local fishing industry, for example the stuffed fish, print of a painting of a ship and the masts of ships seen through the window. This painting can be included amongst a number of works by Forbes, including Off the Fishing Grounds (1886) and Old Newlyn (1884), which reveal an unchanging view of life in Newlyn at a time when rural activities and traditional ways of life were gradually disappearing. Forbes had a monopoly on such subjects in the eyes of the Victorian public, his paintings being characterised by their subdued palette and square brushwork.
The Health of the Bride received an enthusiastic response at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1899. The critic of the Art Journal remarked in 1893 that the 'solemn awkwardness of the young couple themselves, the knowledgeable indifference of the old, and the innocent unconcern of the very young - all these are managed with frankness and skill'. The painting was bought for the large sum of £600 by Sir Henry Tate and was to become part of the collection which he gave to the nation at the foundation of the Tate Gallery. The profits from the sale of the painting enabled Forbes to propose to the artist Elizabeth Armstrong (1859-1912) who had moved to Newlyn in 1885. Their marriage took place in St Peter's Church in Newlyn a few months after The Health of the Bride was completed.
Stanhope Alexander Forbes wrote to Sir Henry Tate (1819-1899) "I myself will be rather occupied down here - no less a matter than my own wedding. It was inevitable after painting this picture". Forbes was writing from Newlyn where he had been staying since 1884. The small Cornish fishing village attracted a number of artists in the late nineteenth century including Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854-1931), Frank Bramley (1857-1915) and Walter Langley (1852-1922). Opposed to the insularity of British painting, these artists were encouraged to paint en plein air, taking much of their inspiration from the work of French naturalist painters such as Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) and Jules Breton (1827-1906), and often choosing 'working life' subjects.
Forbes recalled that the idea for the painting came to him when "Standing in one of these inn parlours I had first thought of a painting of an anglers' meeting - you will notice one or two cases of fish on the wall - but it occurred to me that a wedding party could be much more picturesequely grouped, even though one had to paint them in the smarter, more conventional Sunday clothes". Forbes depicts generations of the same family seated around a table at the wedding breakfast. A sailor raises a toast to the bride who stares pensively into her bouquet, her eyes not meeting the gazes of her admiring onlookers.
(Heather Birchall at tate.org.uk)


The Violinist
From artmight.com


The Sidings
From artmight.com


The Blacksmiths Shop
From artmight.com


Study For The Fleet In Sight
From artmight.com


Study For Home Along
From artmight.com


Amongst The Pines
From artmight.com


Norman Garstin in his article on Stanhope Forbes in The Studio, 1901, stated, "he is penetrated with the actuality of life, he sees no visions, and he dreams no dreams; but on the other hand he sees with extraordinary clearness and simplicity, and renders with extraordinary clearness what he sees". Also, to quote Norman Garstin, "he is a good unsentimental painter, his work has a sense of sincerity that appeals to everyone".
(Milmo-Penny Fine Art Ltd. at mpfa.ie)


Going to School, Paul, near Penzance
Oil on canvas, 1917
From richard-green.com


The stylistic change that took place in Forbe’s work from 1910 onwards, is perfectly illustrated in Going to School, Paul, near Penzance (above). Increasingly he favoured subjects that featured simple town and country views, in which the diminished scale of the figures became subordinate to the overall picturesque significance of the scene.
(richard-green.com)
Elizabeth died in 1912 and after her death he had many of her letters, sketches and pastels burnt.
Three years later he married Maudie Palmer, a former pupil of the school. That same year (May 1915) his son, Alec, joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was sent to the front line in August 1916. He died in the line of duty three weeks later.
(Fine Art Cornwall)


The Fruit Seller
Oil on canvas, 1920
Public collection
From ARC at artrenewal.com


Throughout his life, Forbes was a familiar and popular figure in West Cornwall. Well into the 1930s, he was still often to be seen painting ‘en plein air’, surrounded by curious local children. He died in 1947, a few months short of his ninetieth birthday.
(penleehouse.org.uk)


No comments: