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Royal Cornwall Museum celebrates a century of St Ives art in new exhibition

By AliceWright  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

  • The Boat Man, by Arthur Hayward, 1939

  • Fish Sale, St Ives, by Alberto Ludovici Jnr, 1883

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A new exhibition showcasing a century of art in St Ives has opened at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.

The exhibition is curated by St Ives art expert and collector David Tovey and shows the evolution of art in the Cornish village from 1840 to 1940, including work from both before and after the famous St Ives colony was formed in 1885. 

The paintings on display include a number of rarely seen early works that give a glimpse of the mining, fishing and shipbuilding industries that brought the town prosperity in the first half of the nineteenth century.  

From the period before the art colony was formed, artists featured include the Royal Academicians, Edward William Cooke, who visited the town in 1848, and James Clarke Hook, who was one of the first to take advantage of the completed rail link in 1860.    

The colony was formed in 1885 when artists began to make the town their permanent home – providing a much needed boost to the local economy as traditional industries dramatically declined. 

The exhibition features not only some of the British artists who were key figures in the colony, such as Dorothea Sharp and Arthur Hayward, but also artists from overseas who, whilst remaining relatively unknown in this country, became leading figures in their home nations. 

David Tovey's interest in St Ives art was inspired by the fact that his great grandfather, William Titcomb, was one of the early settlers in the St Ives colony, and the exhibition includes Titcomb's work 'Gull Nesting', showing boys plundering nests on the cliffs by Hor Point, near St Ives. 

Mr Tovey said: "This exhibition, which combines works from my own collection and that of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, provides not only an interesting overview of what I consider to be the heyday of representational art in Britain's premier art colony, but also highlights some of its less known and neglected aspects during a period of great change."

A Century of St Ives Art will run at the Royal Cornwall Museum in River Street, Truro, throughout 2013. 

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