Newlyn, Penzance in the distance from Geoffrey Garnier's Garden
Sir Alfred East RA RI PRBA, 1844-1913
Oil on canvas
142 cm h x 183 cm w (55 3/4 in h x 72 in w)
Commentary by Peter Nahum
This view of Newlyn was almost certainly painted from the garden of Sir Alfred East's friend, the artist Geoffrey Garnier, with whom he stayed on his visits to Cornwall. From this vantage-point, a steep climb from Newlyn harbour, it is possible to view the entire bay over to St Michael's Mount. The combination of the windswept Monterey pines, the opaque flat planes of sunlight reflected from the rooftops and the generous foreground, call to mind the iconography of Japanese prints and create a surprisingly abstracted twentieth century composition. East had studied at the Glasgow School of Art at a time when artists were increasingly influenced by Orientalism. By the time he composed this Cornish view, he had himself travelled extensively in France, Spain, Italy, Morocco and Japan. His Japanese views were much praised and prized.
Sir Alfred East was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire and, after his time at the Glasgow School of Art, studied in Paris under Adolphe-William Bouguereau before settling in London in 1873. His distinctive palette of pale browns and greens and idealisation of the landscape show the influence of the French Barbizon painters, who perceived the countryside in the form of an escape from urban banality.
Provenance: J. A. Churchill, the artist's grandson; his sale; Sotheby's Belgravia, 12th February 1974; to Private collection; to 2003
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Last modified 22 November 2020