Newlyn School
English Landscape Painting Artist Colony Led by Stanhope Forbes.

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Our Little Stream (1926)
Lamorna Birch
Royal Academy of Art, London.

For more about the artists and
styles which shaped the history
of 18th and 19th century studio
and plein air landscape art, see:
English Landscape Painting.

Newlyn School (flourished 1884-1914)

The term "Newlyn School" refers to the artist colony located in and around the fishing village of Newlyn, in Cornwall, from the 1880s until the early 20th century, which specialized in landscape painting. Like the Continental artist colonies of the Barbizon School near Paris, and the Pont-Aven school in Brittany, artists gathered in Newlyn to paint landscape scenes in a purer setting, with strong natural light. Newlyn's plein air painting followed the Impressionist doctrine of naturalism - working directly in nature, using subject matter drawn from rural life, especially that of the fishermen.

Newlyn's Painting Conditions

Plein air painters were drawn to Newlyn for a number of reasons: many hours of strong light; a mild climate particularly suitable for outdoor work; picturesque scenery, both rural and coastal, reminiscent of Brittany; and cheap living conditions. It was also within relatively easy reach of London, following the extension of the Great Western Railway to West Cornwall in 1877. And there was plentiful subject-matter. The day-to-day issues, dangers and disasters of life at sea, along with the everyday scenes of harbour and village activity provided immense scope for genre-painting as well as landscapes.

For information and facts about
this painting genre, see:
Richard Wilson (1714-82)
Father of the English School
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88)
Portraiture, Landscapes
John Constable (1776-1837)
Naturalist landscape painter
Thomas Girtin (1714-82)
First major watercolourist
JMW Turner (1775-1851)
Impressionistic landscape art

For a list of the Top 10 painters/
sculptors: Best Artists of All Time.
For the best oils/watercolours,
see: Greatest Paintings Ever.

For details of art movements
and styles, see: History of Art.
For the chronology and dates
of key events in the evolution
of visual arts around the world
see: History of Art Timeline.

History of Newlyn School

The post-Impressionist artist colony of Newlyn experienced its heyday in the decade prior to the First World War, although a number of well-known artists continued painting there until much later. The first of Newlyn's artists to settle in the town was Walter Langley (1852-1922) who arrived from Birmingham in 1882, followed not long after by his artist friend, Edwin Harris. Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947) arrived in 1884, although he didn't settle until after his marriage to the Canadian painter Elizabeth Armstrong (1859-1912). Forbes was soon joined by Frank Bramley (1857-1915). Both men had almost immediate success with their Newlyn paintings, and the Newlyn School soon became identified with them.

Other Newlyn members included the talented Irish artist Norman Garstin (1847-1926), Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854-1931), Fred Hall (1860-1948), Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929), Harold Knight (1874-1961), Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970), Dod Procter (1892-1972), and Ernest Procter (1886-1935), as well as Lamorna Birch, Frederick Hall, Harold Harvey, Ayerst Ingram, Henry Herbert La Thangue, Fred Millard, Albert Chevallier Taylor and Ralph Todd. A good number of these artists who settled in Newlyn were members of the New English Art Club, but they also exhibited at the London Royal Academy. Among numerous artists who spent summers at Newlyn, was Mildred Anne Butler (1858-1941) another great Irish landscape and watercolourist artist, who visited Newlyn in 1894 and 1895.


Newlyn's golden era was over by the outbreak of WWI: thereafter, its standards fell due to the influx of lesser artists, while St Ives took over as the main artist colony. Even so, several distinguished artists continued to be associated with Newlyn for some years.

Newlyn School Artists

Stanhope A. Forbes (1857–1947) and Frank Bramley (1857-1915) were leading members of the colony. The Irishman Forbes was a founder member, and his first Newlyn painting was shown at the Royal Academy to great acclaim - a success which did much to establish the School. He became a full RA academician in 1910. He died in Newlyn in March 1947. Frank Bramley joined the Newlyn colony in 1894, staying until 1895. His painting A Hopeless Dawn (1888) made his reputation. He showed regularly at the Royal Academy in London from 1884 to 1912. He was elected to full membership (RA) in 1911. In 1900, he settled in Grasmere, Cumbria.

Newlyn School Paintings

• Stanhope Alexander Forbes: The Health of the Bride (1889) Tate London
• Frank Bramley: A Hopeless Dawn (1888) Tate London
• Norman Garstin: The Rain it Raineth Every Day (1892) Penlee House Museum
• Henry Herbert La Thangue: The Man with the Scythe (1896) Tate London
• Lamorna Birch: Our Little Stream (1926) London Royal Academy

The Newlyn School, like the Norwich School (active 1803-33), and the 20th century St Ives School (active 1939-1960s), as well as other regional centres of plein air art, added a small but important contribution to the overall English School of Landscape Painting. Were the English weather to take a turn for the better, one feels that the Devon and Cornish coastline would become a magnet for artists throughout Britain.

• For biographies of established painters and sculptors in Ireland, see: Irish Landscape Artists.
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