Saturday, August 5, 2017

Art and Discomfort

Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947) and the painters of The Newlyn School created their art under trying conditions.

They generally painted multi-figure compositions from live models, overcoming all the challenges of wind, weather, changing light, and curious locals from the fishing village of Cornwall, England.

Forbes said:
"I have often found the success of a picture to be in inverse ratio to the degree of comfort in which it has been produced. I scarcely like to advance the theory that painting is more successful when carried on in discomfort, and with everything conspiring to wreck it, for fear of rendering tenantless those comfortable studios the luxury of which my good friends in the Melbury Road and St. John's Wood so much enjoy."

The Melbury Road and St. John's Wood artists he was referring to were probably people like Frederic, Lord LeightonGeorge Frederick WattsGeorge Du Maurier and Philip Hermogenes Calderon.

These fixtures of the Royal Academy were known for their historical subjects, elaborate costumes, and their lavish social gatherings.

Forbes also worked in the studio, but he and the other artists in Cornwall, found a way to combine the insights of French Impressionism with the practice of multi-figure composition.
The quote comes from the book: British Impressionism
A good book on the Newlyn School is: Stanhope Forbes and the Newlyn School
Stanhope Forbes: Father of the Newlyn School
Previously: Newlyn School: Painting Outdoors

1 comment:

Smurfswacker said...

This reminds me of an anecdote William Russell Flint told in his autobiography. He described setting up some distance from a rustic Spanish house and beginning to paint. He'd noticed an elderly woman looking out a second-story window. Eventually she noticed him. The woman disappeared, reappeared at the doorway, and began a long, slow trudge to where the artist sat. Finally she reached Flint. She looked at his painting, then said in Spanish, "Bad." Then she turned and trudged all the way back to her house.