Recently Plymouth City Museum had a major tart up. It’s now called the Box. And very fine it is too. I only have one grumble. There’s a painting in its collection called ‘A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach’. It was produced in the late19th century by the artist, Stanhope Forbes, who is known as the father of the Newlyn Painters. It’s a big beast. In the old museum it used to have pride of place at the top of the stairs. Now it’s not on permanent display anymore even though it’s important enough to have a teaching resource dedicated to it. There’s a link to that here. I’ve had a wee grumble to the museum staff. Perhaps they’ll take heed one day and I can again pop in and have a look whenever I’m in Plymouth.
I’m rather partial to art that shows people going about their everyday work. For instance I’ve written about Cailebotte’s Raboteurs de Parquet’ before. I love the way that the catch in this Forbes’ picture is just slapped on the beach. No fancy stall displaying the fisherman’s wares. I find it rather surprising that some of those big old fish weren’t immediately snapped up.
As an added bonus I thought that I’d share another picture by a ‘Tucking a School of Pilchards’ that hangs in the Penlee House Gallery in Penzance. This too was painted at the end of the 19th century by a chap called Percy Craft. It depicts a fascinating process and I I’m interested to see that Victorian gulls were just as pesky as modern ones! When I first saw it I thought that it was so reminiscent of the ‘Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach’ even though the colour palette and subject matter is different. And blow me down! The similarity may not be a coincidence for Stanhope and Percy once shared a house.