Born in Bletchingley, Surrey, the artist was a student of the RA Schools from 1853. He first visited Cornwall on honeymoon in 1870, staying on the Lizard, to which he returned repeatedly usually for several months at a time over the following thirty years. His stay at several locations in Cornwall is noted in his Biography - for example in September 1872, he was painting in St Ives.
His paintings Kennack Strand; Cornish Lions (1878); Under the Lizard Lights; Logan Bay; Porthcurnow; Newquay, Cornwall were all exhibited at the Whitechapel Exhibition of Cornish Artists in 1902. John Ruskin, becoming a close friend of the artist, praised The Stone Breaker (1858) and Val d'Aosta (1859) early in his artistic career, and later he was known mainly for Cornish seascapes. In all, he produced over two hundred paintings of Cornwall, including Mounts Bay (1877) and Britannia's Realm (1880).
The following programme note was included at the Whitechapel Exhibition: 'The painter of these pictures, who died so recently, was one of the first to carry out the ideals of the Pre-Raphaelite painters in landscape, trying to render faithfully every fissure on the rocky cliffs, every moss and heath on the hillsides. The beauty of these pictures shows how much may be attained in work of this kind.' The titles listed were all lent to the exhibition by a private collector. The artist treated all of his subjects in minute scientific detail, and was also a keen astronomer.
Painter of landscapes and seascapes
works and access
Works include: The Stone Breaker (1858); Val d'Aosta (1859); Mounts Bay (1877); Kennack Strand; Cornish Lions (1878); Britannia's Realm (1880); Under the Lizard Lights; Logan Bay; Porthcurnow; Newquay, Cornwall ; Port Gwarra, Cornwall [sic, Porthgwarra today] (1880, inscribed and dated) last offered for sale Nov 2009 at Christie's from the Collection of the late Christopher Wood, illus in cat., p25
Access to works: Walker, Liverpool; Notts Castle Museum
Whitechapel Exhibition of Cornish Artists 1902;
Penlee House Gallery, Penzance 1 April - 10 June 2006 [The exhibition was accompanied by the lavishly illustrated John Brett: A Pre-Raphaelite in Cornwall (Sansom & Co)]
Benezit (lg entry)
Brett et al (2006) John Brett: A Pre-Raphaelite in Cornwall (Bristol: Sansom & Co)
Chantrey Bequest list: Tate On-line
Christie's Interiors Nov 8 and 10,2009: 'The Collection of the late Christopher Wood (1941-2009) Port Gwarra, Cornwall illus, p25
Dictionary of National Biography;
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p315, bibl)
Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists
Newton et al (2005) Painting at the Edge
Whitechapel Exhibition catalogue (repr Hardie 2009)
Wood (1995) Victorian Painters (bibl)