Richard Thomas PENTREATH

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 (2nd prize) for his painting of Pilchard Tucking in oils. He became a popular portrait and landscape painter, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy from 1844 to 1861. This resulted in him receiving a number of portrait commissions in the capital.

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 Kresen Kernow.

He married in London in 1831, and in 1841 was living with his wife, Mary Ann and two sons at Clarence Street, Madron, 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. Around 90 of his paintings were drawn together for a memorial exhibition in 1884.


Painter in oils of sea pieces and landscapes, portrait artist, engraver

works and access

Works include: Newlyn, The Pilchard Factory (1835); View from Madron Carn (1839); Penzance (c1840); Pilchard Tucking (1846); View of the Mount's Bay, Cornwall (1845); The Royal Yacht lying off St. Michael's Mount (1846); Fisher People Waiting the Return of the Fishing Boats (1856), Penzance from The Lidden (wc); Lamorna (1855); Lamorna (1859)

Access to Works: Penlee House Collection, Penzance; CRO (Truro); RCM, Truro (Portrait of William Jory Henwood, FRS (1805-1875)


RCPS 1835 (First Silver Medal), September Annual Show 1846 (Bronze medal)

Retrospective exhibition, Penzance School of Art 1884

2011: 'The Marvellous Everyday', Penlee House


Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn & West Cornwall;

Holmes Artistic Tradition

 West Briton and Cornwall Advertizer 1835

St Michael's Mount illustrated history and guide book

The Penzance Gazette and West Cornwall Advertiser 9 Sep 1846

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

J Rice (2011) Curator's selection:  'The Marvellous Everyday' Exh Cat

Tovey, David (2022) Lamorna - An Artistic, Social and Literary History - Volume I - Pre-1920, Wilson Books