Tregenzas and the newlyn artists

Various Tregenzas took advantage of, or were taken advantage by, the Newlyn school of artists - mainly as models.

The Fisherman


Great great uncle Richard Thomas Benjamin Trewavas Tregenza (born c1840) was probably the model for Henry Tuke’s “The Fisherman” (1889). He was a fisherman and, by some accounts, a bit of a rogue in Mousehole, Cornwall.

The picture is owned by Nottingham Castle Museum but rarely on display.sts (2)

Mother and Child


In 2003 the BBC Radio 4 programme Home Truths reported the story of Joseph Tregenza (b.1917) and a painting of him with his mother by Harold Harvey.

After the best part of 80 years Joseph was reunited with the picture - now part of the national gallery of Wales collection. The home truths story is here and the BBC Wales version here.

Separately, Paul Tregenza recalls in a letter to my father of his grandfather (Joseph, b 1885) having a painting by Harold Harvey
 “of my grandmother as a young woman in one of my grandfather’s fields of narcissus in Newlyn. she would have been in charge of the picker-girls. My grandfather did not think much of ‘they painters’ as the painting was in lieu of rent (he had similar trouble with Stanhope-Forbes).”  Unfortunately the picture was sold and has not been traced.


Paul Tregenza is the son of the Joseph Tregenza (junior) in the home truths story so Harold Harvey must have done a fair amount of painting for Joseph Tregenza (senior) to pay his rent.

More recently, Paul Tregenza recalls "mother and Child" by Harold Harvey... is now in Cardiff - Welsh National Museum and Gallery.   We (my wife and I) found it eventually and that is why my dad visited it and appeared on radio 4 etc.

The child is my father Joseph 1917 and the mother is his, my grandmother Nannie-Pearce maiden name Berriman.  They lived in a house (while my grandfather Joseph was at war - WWI) belonging to Harold Harvey who owned a pair of semidetached houses.   He lived in the northern one and rented out the southern. Harold Harvey was married to Gertrude maiden name Bodinar who was sister to Minnie (Bodinar) wife to my great-grandfather John-Samuel.

In this case the rent went to the painter though probably he lessened the rent was it was 'family' and my grandmother helped them out with chores and sitting for paintings.

During the first world war painters were forbidden to paint landscapes (in case they fell into enemy hands !) so he painted people.  He painted this one in the flower field just to the north of his house.  He sold it in London where it was bought a year after its completion.  The buyer had connections with Wales and gave it to the National Gallery of Wales where it was stored not on display.”

The Newlyn Artists

(c) Penlee house gallery


The tiny fishing port of Newlyn, situated in mount's bay in the far west of cornwall, was first visited by some of the artists who were to form the Newlyn 'school' (or colony) in 1880.

The painter T.C.Gotch and his wife-to-be, fellow artist Caroline Yates, visited Newlyn in 1880, but the first artist to settle in the village was Walter Langley, who had visited the village in both 1880 and 1881 and finally made Newlyn his home in 1882. Langley and was closely followed by his friend Edwin Harris, a fellow Birmingham art school student.

In 1884 Stanhope Forbes arrived in Newlyn and wrote to his mother "Newlyn is a sort of English concarneau and is the haunt of many artists".

Throughout the 1880s, the list of artists associated with the colony grew; in 'the Cornishman' newspaper of the 4th September 1884 it was noted that there were no less than 27 artists residing in Newlyn. these included:- Frank Wright Bourdillon, Frank Bramley, Percy Craft, William Teulon Blandford Fletcher, Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, Thomas Cooper Gotch, Fred Hall, Edwin Harris, Walter Langley, Leghe Suthers, Alexander Chevallier Tayler, Ralph Todd and Henry Scott Tuke. The only woman listed among these early artists was Elizabeth Adela Forbes (nee Armstrong), although Caroline Gotch (nee Yates) was also a fine painter in her own right.

By the end of the century, the group had begun to disperse, with only a small number still living in the Newlyn/Penzance area. Many of the artists had changed the style and composition of their work and their palettes had brightened, although Walter Langley remained true to his original form until his death in Penzance in 1922.

The early days of the Newlyn colony were marked by studio open days in the meadow area of the village, which held many small studios. 1895 saw the opening of the Newlyn art gallery, paid for by passmore Edwards as a memorial to the 'Cornish boy wonder', the portrait painter john opie. This became the place to see the work by these artists, who hung their work in the gallery prior to sending it for exhibition at the royal academy.

The colony was not all work and no play: an annual cricket match was held between the Newlyn and St Ives artists, and amateur dramatics were also popular, with Percy craft taking the lead in staging these occasions. One such entertainment was 'lubly lobengula's impecunious impi' where craft and Langley played the tambourine while Harris, Gotch and others played various characters.

In 1899, Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes opened their school of painting in Newlyn, with the aim of reinvigorating the colony. This not only attracted many students, including future artistic 'greats' such as dod and Ernest Procter, but also meant that the village continued to attract more established painters.

Elizabeth Forbes sadly died in 1912 (aged 52), her obituary proclaiming her as 'the queen of Newlyn''. her husband, Stanhope, lived on until 1947 however, keeping the core of the colony alive with him through his friendships with fellow artists and his support for young talent.