Gold, Carnon Stream Works, Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England
Gold is a native element and precious metal which has been prized by mankind for thousands of years for its beauty, malleability and resistance to corrosion. This gold nugget is the largest known to have been found in Cornwall and weighs 1 oz t, 18 dwt. 6 grs. It was found in January 1808 in the Carnon Valley tin-stream works and bought by collector Philip Rashleigh in March of the same year. Rashleigh wrote in his Manuscript (112 Au): 'Native Gold found in Carnon Stream work in Cornwall weighs - 1 oz. 18 pw. 6 gr. Troy this piece has had all the extra matter picked out except a mite in one place the marks of many others remain. The smoothness of the piece shews the great time it has been washed by the water where it was exposed and the hollow parts more rough gives a proof of its not being manufactured'. In the ownership of Mr Wills, a silversmith from Truro, the find was reported in the Royal Cornwall Gazette on 6th February 1808 'this is unquestionably the largest and most beautiful specimen ever found in Cornwall, or probably in any other country'. The paper reported in March 1808 that Rashleigh purchased the specimen from Mr Wills. Mineral analysis undertaken in 2018 indicates that the gold content in the nugget is in the high 90s while other gold nuggets from the Carnon Stream Works, which were analysed, are around the 70s. As a result, it has been suggested that this gold nugget may have been refined and worked into a forgery by the silversmith who sold it to Rashleigh. Rashleigh Collection.
© RIC, photographer A.G. Tindle
Madonna and Child, Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464)
Oil on panel, Dutch School, 15th century. Dutch artist Rogier van der Weyden was one of the most profound and influential painters of the 15th century. He was internationally famed for the naturalism of his detail and his expressive pathos. He created a range of types, for portraits and for religious subjects, which were repeated throughout the Netherlands, the Iberian peninsula, and even Italy, until the mid 16th century. He was apprenticed to Robert Campin in Tournai from March 1427 to August 1432 but he soon equalled his master and was later to influence Campin's own work. In 1435 he was made painter to the city of Brussels. In 1450 he may have travelled to Rome. He worked for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and for foreign princes, as well as for the city and church. Rogier van der Weyden was highly successful and internationally famous in his lifetime. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However, his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid 18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years and today he is known, with Campin and van Eyck, as the third (by birth date) of the three great Early Flemish artists, and widely as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century. The Madonna and Child was a traditional subject for Renaissance artists, commissioned both by the Church and by private individuals. The use of oil paint on wooden panel, rather than egg tempera which was the dominant medium in Italy during this period, is a particularly Northern European development which gradually spread south to Italy through the 15th century.
Irene, Bryan Pearce (1929-2007)
Oil on board, 1975. Bryan Pearce was born in St Ives in 1929 and suffered from the then unknown condition Phenylketonuria, which affects the normal development of the brain. Encouraged by his mother, the painter Mary Pearce, and then by other St Ives artists, he began drawing and painting in watercolours in 1953. His regular walks around St Ives, where he lived all his life, have been the inspiration for his subject matter, unconsciously recording the town's subtle changes. In this synthesis of imagination and reality, Pearce paints the world as he commands it; a sanctuary with an ever-present sun, bathing the streets and houses in the subtlest of colour harmonies. He worked slowly, but consistently, producing around twelve oil paintings a year. Often compared to Alfred Wallis, the late Peter Lanyon said of him: 'Because his sources are not seen with a passive eye, but are truly happenings, his painting is original'. His particular experiences of his hometown were captured with unique clarity. Pearce's artistic developments, his simple renditions of space, colour and light, evolve from a sophisticated understanding of composition. He had a career which spanned over fifty years, his paintings seem to evoke a serene sense of place, which seems at once personal yet archetypal. He is now recognised as one of the country's foremost 'naive' painters, through the re-examination of familiar views and landmarks, Pearce offers us his profound, extraordinary experience of St Ives.