Alfred Wallis 1855–1942
T01087 ‘THE HOLD HOUSE PORT MEAR SQUARE ISLAND PORT MEAR BEACH’ ?c.1932
Inscribed ‘alfred wallis’ b.r., and title as given above on reverse.
Oil on cardboard, 12×15 1/4 (30·4×38·5).
Presented by Dame Barbara Hepworth, 1968.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by the donor, 1932 or 1933.
Exh: Arts Council retrospective, Penwith Gallery, St. Ives, April–May 1968 (7, repr.), and Tate Gallery, May–June 1968 and tour (5, repr.), as ‘Port Meor Square and Island’.
Repr: Edwin Mullins, Alfred Wallis, 1967, p. 46, as ‘Port Meor Square and Island’.
Wallis's title, inscribed by himself, was discovered in 1969 when the picture was temporarily removed from the painted board on which it had been mounted. This also showed the picture to have been painted on the back of a printed advertisement for an exhibition of the St. Ives Society of Artists at the Porthmeor Gallery, in which seven members and associates of the Royal Academy, among ‘other leading artists of the St Ives Colony’, are listed by name.
T01087 is a view of St. Ives, Cornwall, the elements in which are rearranged so that they depart from strict topographical accuracy. It shows the promontary at St. Ives known as ‘The Island’, part of Porthmeor Beach (one end of which adjoins the Island), and Porthmeor Square.
Of the six works by Wallis so far acquired by the Tate, this is the third to depict what Mullins describes (op. cit.) as ‘a curious-shaped house ... in Porthmeor Square near Wallis's own house ... The house is always depicted from the same angle, but the rest of St. Ives is arranged around it depending entirely on what he wished to emphasise’.
The Tate Gallery: Acquisitions 1968-9, London 1969