Still Life, Walter Langley (1852-1922)
Oil on board, Newlyn School, late 19th / early 20th century. Walter Langley was born in Birmingham, the eighth of eleven children of William Langley, a tailor, and his wife, Mary Ann. He was enrolled at the age of ten in evening classes at the Birmingham School of Design. He was apprenticed to lithographer, August Heinrich Biermann, and through lithography was introduced to the use of watercolour. Attracted to the medium, he set about learning to paint. He finally abandoned lithography to take up painting as a profession in 1879. In 1880, Langley visited Newlyn briefly and in the following year spent periods in both Brittany and Newlyn. He settled in Newlyn in 1882, one of the first artists to arrive there. His humble beginnings and his struggle for artistic recognition gave him a sympathetic insight into the hardships faced by the Newlyn community in its attempts to gain a livelihood from the sea. A study of a fisherman's widow, 'Time Moveth Not, Our Being 'Tis That Moves', submitted to the Dudley Gallery's Spring 1883 exhibition, caused a sensation and led to his membership of the Institute of Painters in Watercolour. Apart from a return to Birmingham in 1866-1867 and brief excursions to the continent, Langley remained for the rest of his life in Cornwall. He was honoured in 1886 by an exhibition of watercolours at the New Art Gallery in Birmingham and received international recognition through the award of a gold medal for watercolours at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The fact that this still-life study (dedicated to his friend and fellow artist Ralph Todd) is painted in oils makes it an unusual addition to Langley's canon of work.
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