William Henry Brooke

Lanherne Bay near the Nunnery, Cornwall

1819

In Tate Britain

Artist
William Henry Brooke 1772–1860
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 146 x 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1981
Reference
T03300

Display caption

This vibrant watercolour shows Lanherne Bay in north Cornwall (known today as Mawgan Porth bay) on a bright August day. It is painted broadly and freely, with blocks of colour evoking the features of the landscape. This suggests it may have been sketched rapidly on the spot. Landscapes are less usual in Brooke’s work, as he established his reputation as a portraitist and illustrator.

Gallery label, October 2019

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Catalogue entry

T03300 LANHERNE BAY NEAR THE NUNNERY, CORNWALL 1819

Inscribed ‘Lanherne Bay near the
Nunnery-Cornwall/11 Augt 1819’ in ink across lower edge
Watercolour on paper, 5 3/4 × 7 1/2 (14.7 × 19)
Purchased from Stanhope Shelton 1981
Prov: , bt in the London art trade by Stanhope Shelton c. 1980 (as by Joshua Cristall).

The bay depicted in T03300 is some six miles north of Newquay on the north Cornish coast, and is today known as the bay of Mawgan Porth, a small town which stands at its head, and at the entrance to the Vale of Lanherne. What Brooke calls ‘the Nunnery’ is an Elizabethan house (with later additions) at Lanherne, which was once the house of the Arundell family, but which since 1794 has been a convent (Nikolaus Pevsner, Cornwall, 1970, p.116).

An earlier attribution to Cristall was understandable, since Brooke's watercolour landscapes have something in common with the flat patterns of colour which Cristall often used (e.g. in ‘Beach Scene, Hastings’, c. 1808, T01851 in the Gallery's collection). A group of Brooke's Sussex landscapes in the collection of the Museum of Local History, Lewes is closely comparable, and the handwriting in T03300 is clearly recognisable as Brooke's.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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