Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stanhope Alexander Forbes

A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach
oil on canvas
118.5 x 154 cm
Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth, UK

This painting was one of his most important canvasses. He painted it at the scene after much preparatory sketching. He had originally started a much larger canvas nearly 3m (10ft) long, but it was too impractical to keep still on a windy beach.

Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857-1947) was a painter of realistic genre, frequently in the open air, historical subjects and landscapes. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, as a son of a railway manager and a French mother.

He was a founder member of a group of landscape and figure painters called the Newlyn School of Art, based near Penzance in Cornwall. Many of the Newlyn School artists had trained in Paris and been in contact with artists like Degas and Manet. They brought new French ideas to Britain and slowly revitalised the Victorian establishment.

He studied in the studio of Leon Bonnat, and brought home with him the idea of painting in the open air and using local models. He painted fishermen, craftsmen and innkeepers at work. With his wife, the painter Elizabeth Armstrong, he set up the influential Newlyn School of Art, which concentrated on figure drawing.

Throughout his life, he 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.