The artist was born in Redruth, Cornwall, the son of Richard PENPRASE and his wife Susan Ann. He studied art at the Redruth School of Art and as a student he had nine sheets of drawings and studies purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum. He also assisted his father in church decoration and restoration, with drawings.
In 1911 he moved to Belfast as a teacher in the College of Technology, College Square, from which he retired 42 years later. He exhibited his work at the Royal Ulster Academy and at the Ulster Arts Club of which he was President.
In 1936 he began to build 'Bendhu House' at Ballintoy, County Antrim. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland showed his work in special exhibition 1977, and he died the following year.
The father of the artist Newton PENPRASE. His birth is registered in the first quarter of 1859 in the Penzance Registration District (which includes Madron Parish) as Richard Henry Penrose PENPRAZE.
A painting by this artist, entitled Murdoch House, Cross Street (1897) is in the collection held by Redruth Town Museum.
He married Susan Ann DUNSTAN in 1883 in the Redruth Registration District and is recorded in the 1891 Census for Redruth as a 32 year old, 'Employed Decorative Painter', married with 3 children, born in Madron Parish and living at 7 Blights Row. Mr R H Penprase is mentioned in the 1906 Art Union Exhibition as receiving a cash prize (Cornishman) for an unidentified piece of work. This was also at a time when his son Newton Penprase was studying art at the Redruth School of Art and giving some assistance to his father.
The main occupation of RHPP was in church decoration and restoration.
R T Pentreath was born in Mousehole, near Penzance, in August 1806, the son of Richard Pentreath , a schoolmaster and Julia nee Badcock.
He won the Silver Medal (lst prize) in the 1835 EXHIBITION of the newly 'crowned' Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society (RCPS) of Falmouth. At that stage he was a servant at Clowance, one of the family seats of the St Aubyns (of St Michael's Mount), and later an attendant on Sir R Vyvyan of Trelowarren with whom he travelled on the continent, recording the places visited.
His painting at the RCPS was Newlyn, The Pilchard Factory, and was fulsomely described as a very beautiful picture attracting general admiration, and affording an admirable specimen of native talent. 'The houses and the pier of Newlyn, with the brig lying beside it, all partook of that harmonious colouring, which constituted one principal excellence of this picture.' In 1846 he took the bronze medal (Second prize) for his painting of Pilchard Tucking in oils. He became a popular portrait and landscape painter, exhibiting regularly at the RA (1853-1868). According to Holmes many of his works are unsigned and attributable only by the engravings produced. Some of his work, due to the subject matter and being unsigned have been attributed to Thomas Hart. Many of his works were engraved by Vibert & Tonkin and Besley at Exeter.
Aside from his painting, Pentreath accepted commissions for map-making. He is believed to have been responsible in 1841 for the 'Plan of the Tenement of Bossigran (sic) in the parish of Zennor' then the property of H C Phillips Esq. This very large map, 34 inches x 51 1/2 inches, was gifted to the Hypatia Trust in 2008 and is now lodged permanently with the Cornwall Records Office (CRO).
In 1841 he was living with his wife, Mary Ann and two sons at Clarence Street, Madron and is described as a Spirit Merchant. However, ten years later while still living at the same address he is then described as an artist. By 1856 he was living at Exmouth in Devon while in 1861 he and his wife are found as one of three families living at 30 Moore Street, Chelsea, London. Whether this was a short term visit or longer is not known for he died in Exmouth in January 1869 at the age of 62.
The Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall was founded on the 8th of February, 1949, following a meeting arranged at the Castle Inn, St Ives. Nineteen artists were the founder members. The new society was formed by many who had resigned from the St Ives Society of Artists and others who sympathised with their dissatisfactions concerning STISA and its policies. The Penwith Society would include both painters and craftsmen, unlike STISA, and would also offer both professional and lay memberships.
The 19 founding members were: Shearer ARMSTRONG, Wilhelmina BARNS-GRAHAM, Sven BERLIN, David COX, Agnes E DREY, Leonard John FULLER. Isobel HEATH. Barbara HEPWORTH, Marion Grace HOCKEN, Peter LANYON, Bernard LEACH, Denis MITCHELL, Guido MORRIS, Marjorie MOSTYN, Dicon NANCE, Robin NANCE, Ben NICHOLSON, Hyman SEGAL and John WELLS.
It was agreed that the Society was to be founded as a memorial tribute to Borlase SMART. Officers were elected, and at a general meeting a longer list of artists and craftsmen was invited to become members. Those invited and those who accepted are listed in the Chronology of the Tate (1985) publication.
By 1950 the cracks had begun to show and some of the founding members resigned, including Segal, Cox, Berlin, Isobel Heath, Lanyon and Morris, due to the suggestion put forward to institute divisions (A, B, C) or groups of artists, divided as to whether or not they were A Traditionalists B Modernists and C Craftsmen. Opposition was most vociferous from Lanyon, and at this point he began to exhibit with the NSA in Newlyn, becoming its chairman in 1961. A number of the Founder Members resigned over this issue. The Penwith Society abolished the A and B group rule in 1957. The Penwith Society still operates today (2013). Kathleen Watkins, appointed Curator/secretary of the Society in 1967 has recently died, and her successor is not yet known.
To: The Penwith Society of Arts.
So sorry to hear of the death of Kathleen Watkins. Having visited and purchased from the gallery over the years, beginning with a drawing by Helen Feiler in 1984, it was always a pleasure to see the familiar face behind the formidable typewriter. I hope she knew she was a bit of a star. Condolences to family and friends. Bob Smith, Eastbourne, East Sussex.
Bruce & Mary Wiltshire sent a message using the contact form at
We just wanted to extend our sincere condolences to Kathy's family and
friends and the Penwith on hearing of Kathy's death. She was an exceptional
person who helped us decide to buy pieces by D Mitchel and W Barnes-Graham
and rewarded us with stories and laughter on every visit to the Penwith.
We last saw her over the August Bank Holiday and we cannot quite believe that
she won't be there when next we visit, she was part of the fabric of St.Ives
for us and surely for so many others. Her loss must be keen for those that
knew and loved her well.
The first Headmaster was Henry Malcolm GEOFFROI. Born in Boulogne in 1825, he came to London in 1840, perhaps to escape the coup attempt begun in his birthplace by the future Napoleon III. Whatever the reason, he trained as an art master at the Department of Art, South Kensington, and was dispatched to Penzance, finding lodgings at 3 Parade Passage. On September 13, 1853, he held the first meeting of the new school in two rooms above the Princes Street Hall, now believed to be today’s Masonic Lodge. At this meeting he detailed to those who attended the purpose of the school and the art that would be taught there.
Interest in the school was strong and crossed the social classes. Everyone from artisans to young ladies wanted to learn how to draw. By the end of the year Mr Geoffroi was organizing a drawing class at Hayle, and then a few years later he established another in St Just. In Penzance there were so many who wished to join his classes that by the year's end he had moved the school from its original two rooms to Old Regent House (adjoining the National school) in Voundervour Lane.
Almost from the school’s outset students were encouraged to take the exams offered by the Art Department at South Kensington. One notable success was William COLENSO who won a coveted Victoria Bronze Medal for his drawings of plants in 1864, the highest possible national honour. Mr Geoffroi also took his pupil’s work to the annual Royal Polytechnic Exhibition at Falmouth where much success was achieved over the years. And then there were the popular annual exhibitions and prize giving ceremonies at the school in the autumn, shared with the science school when art and science departments were merged by central government.
...by 1880 enough funds had been raised for a new art school to be built at the top of Morrab Road, on land gifted to the town by mayor, MP and banker, Charles Campbell Ross.
Designed in the English Gothic style by well known Cornish architect, Silvanus TREVAIL, the new art school came in on budget at £1220. On either side of the eastern facade are Bath stone inset plaques: one has the thistle, rose and shamrock emblem of the Department of Art and the other the head of John the Baptist, the insignia of the borough. The new art school opened on March 7, 1881 with a short civic parade and an exhibition of pupils' work along with oil and water colour paintings and object of vertu from South Kensington (Victoria and Albert Museum). Such was the local pride in the establishment that on a visit to Penzance while on a lecture tour in 1883, Oscar Wilde was shown the art school by the mayor.
[Abstract from the essay 'The Penzance School of Art: the early years' by Peter Waverly pp21-23 (in) Hardie ed (2009) Artists/Newlyn & West Cornwall 1880-1940 A Dictionary and Sourcebook]
The artist's addresses are listed as Tunbridge Wells, Kent (1891) and Ilfracombe, Devon (1901).
In 1897, the artist sold two paintings at NAG Boulonge and Arrival of Fish, Newlyn. From 1910 the address is The Art Gallery, Ilfracombe, but by 1913, the name is no longer listed in The Year's Art.