Jubilee Procession in a Cornish Village, A.G. Sherwood Hunter (1846-1919)
Oil on canvas, Newlyn School, June 1897. This painting is a wonderful record of a lantern procession held to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The women and girls in the procession, all dressed in white and carrying Chinese lanterns, are shown snaking their way through the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn. George Sherwood Hunter was born in Aberdeen and visited Newlyn around the turn of the century. He settled there permanently in 1902 where he taught alongside Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes at the Newlyn School of Painting. Like many artists associated with the Newlyn School, Hunter was interested in depicting working people around the ports and villages of Cornwall. The painting underwent considerable conservation and restoration in 2010 which meant that, for the first time in over 100 years, the exquisitely painted faces of those in the procession could be seen in all their subtle glory. The delicate beauty in the children's faces is made more remarkable when one takes into consideration the very limited palette Hunter works with.
© RIC, photographer Mike Searle
The Gullett Family, John Opie (1761-1807)
Oil on canvas, English School, circa 1786. This family portrait by the Cornish artist John Opie, shows Christopher Gullet, Clerk of the Peace for Devon, with his wife Anne and youngest child Georgina. John Opie was born in Harmony Cottage, Trevellas, between St Agnes and Perranporth in Cornwall. He was the youngest of the five children of Edward Opie, a master carpenter, and his wife Mary (nee Tonkin). He showed a precocious talent for drawing and mathematics, and by the age of twelve he had mastered the teachings of Greek mathematician Euclid and opened an evening school for poor children where he taught reading, writing and arithmetic. His father, however, did not encourage his abilities, and apprenticed him to his own trade of carpentry. Opie's artistic abilities eventually came to the attention of local physician and satirist, Dr John Wolcot (who used the pen name Peter Pindar), who visited him at the sawmill where he was working in 1775. Recognising a great talent, Wolcot became Opie's mentor, buying him out of his apprenticeship and insisting that he come to live at his home in Truro. Wolcot provided invaluable encouragement, advice, tuition and practical help in the advancement of his early career, including obtaining many commissions for work. In 1781, having gained considerable experience as a portraitist travelling around Cornwall, Opie moved to London with Wolcot. There they lived together, having entered into a formal profit-sharing agreement. Although Opie had received a considerable artistic education from Wolcot, the doctor chose to present him as a self-taught prodigy; a portrait of a boy shown at the Society of Artists the previous year, had been described in the catalogue as "an instance of Genius, not having ever seen a picture." Wolcot introduced the "Cornish wonder" to leading artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was to compare him to Caravaggio and Velazquez.
St Piran's Oratory during construction of the concrete shell, Perranzabuloe, Cornwall. 1910
A good crowd viewing the site during the building of the concrete protective shell in 1910. The site hut can be seen left of centre. St Piran's Oratory survives as an early Christian chapel with all four walls standing. It represents the supposed site where St Piran, an Irish saint came ashore and established a Christian centre of worship in the sixth or seventh centuries AD. The site has a documented entry in the Domesday book. There is a small nave, chancel and stone bench around much of the interior plus a cemetery. Situated on Penhale Sands, east of Perranporth, the Oratory has been subject to blown sands over the years. Excavations were carried out in 1835 and 1843 and then railings were erected around the site in the 1890s. In 1910 it was re-excavated and a concrete 'preserving structure' constructed over it. A large number of burials were uncovered during the works. The concrete shell was largely demolished in 1980 and the chapel reburied. The site was re-excavated in 2014-2015. Photographer: Unknown.
© From the collection of the RIC