House in the Trees at Hampstead, John Constable (1776-1837)
Oil on board, English School, 1821. John Constable was the son of wealthy miller in Bergholt, Suffolk. His family did not approve of his vocation as an artist but he joined the Royal Academy Schools as a student in 1799. From 1802 until around 1820 his paintings mostly featured the landscape of Suffolk, a number of which were made by sketching in oils, which had been popular among young English landscape artists since before 1800. Constable took this quick and direct method of painting and developed it into a tool of great range and refinement. The most famous example of work from this Suffolk-based phase is The Hay Wain (1821), which was in fact painted in the studio. Constable was elected to the Royal Academy in 1819 and from then onwards based himself in London and Hampstead. In 1829 he was made a full Academician and the last years of his life were spent consolidating his reputation as one of Britain's foremost landscape painters. House in the Trees at Hampstead is a study of trees made against the sky and it is one of several that the artist made shortly after he settled permanently in Hampstead with his family. It is unclear whether these sketches resulted in a finished work or whether he employed the tree and cloud studies in these sketches for a painting somewhere else.
Monday, Bryan Pearce (1929-2007)
Oil on board, 1959. 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.
View of St Ives with the railway station in foreground. Around 1880
The St Ives branch was opened on 1st June 1877, by the GWR as successors to the West Cornwall Railway. The stonework of the railway buildings still appears very fresh in this view, which cannot have been taken much later. A slightly different view of a similar date appears in the G.W.R. Journal Special Cornish Issue 1992. The permanent way consisted of 76 Ib bullhead rail in 35 Ib cast iron chairs on cross sleepers, and unlike the mixed gauge main line, was broad gauge only. The viaduct to the right of the picture had three openings of 40 feet and seven of 20 feet, wrought iron girders being carried on masonry piers. The curved station building has a certain Brunelian feel about it, even though completed some 18 years after his death. A small signal box is provided to operate the typical G.W.R. semaphore signal. Two coaches stand in the station, another further along, and what appears to be a saloon at the far end. All are in two colour livery. Goods waggons in the picture consist of about seven opens and three vans, the limited goods traffic being reflected by the small yard of only two short sidings in addition to the two lines through the station. There was also a small engine shed just out of shot to the right. at this date the pilchard industry was at its height, and boats appear everywhere, on the beach, under the viaduct, in front of houses, on the slope behind, and next to the signal box. The image was certainly taken before 1888 as the wooden pier is still in good condition and the quay has not yet been lengthened. Photographer: Edward Ashton.
© From the collection of the RIC