Unloading the boats, Newlyn Harbour signed and dated 'Harold Harvey.06' (lower left) oil on canvas 30.5 x 46 cm. (12 x 18 in.)
Harold Harvey was an artist whose career straddled the first two generations of Newlyn School painters. Born in Penzance, Harvey spent his entire life based in Cornwall, and he would have grown up witnessing the growth of an artistic community, as Walter Langley, Stanhope Forbes and many others, invigorated with the principle of living among their subjects, and painting them in a natural setting, began to move to Newlyn, a tiny fishing village adjacent to Penzance.
Harvey studied under Norman Garstin at the Penzance School of Art. An Irish-born artist who settled in Cornwall, Gartsin was, like many of his contemporaries, hugely influenced by Bastien-Lepage, a painter who typified the principles of realism, working 'en plein air', and living among his subjects. The young Harvey then travelled to Paris, where like Thomas Cooper Gotch and Henry Scott Tuke, he studied under Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian. Returning to the family home in Penzance, and later settling in Newlyn, Harvey's first exhibited work was at the inaugural exhibition of the Passmore Edwards Art Gallery in 1896, where he would have hung alongside the likes of Forbes, Langley and Garstin. Two years later, Harvey had his first work exhibited at the Royal Academy (In a Cornish cottage1898, no. 44). He contintued to exhibit at the R.A. until his death, as well as at Institutes and Academies in Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow and elsewhere. He also held several one-man exhibitions in London, at the Mendoza Galleries, Barbizon House and the Leicester Galleries.
Harvey's output was prolific and his style was sensitive to the changing styles of the Newlyn artistic community. In his early work we see his palette and his choice of subject very influenced by Forbes; in later years we see the influence of artists such as Laura Knight, with a greater use of bright colours, and later still we see a much broader range of subjects, and a style reminiscent of painters such as Dod Procter. As the author of an article published in Colour magazine in 1920 notes, we can identify "certain successive phases in which different influences are traceable in turn. Starting out with a purely naturalistic realism, of which Bastien-Lepage was, via Stanhope Forbes, the inspirer, he in common with the other members of the younger Newlyn generation passes through a stage of pre-Raphaelite and then primitive Italian realism, which is 'natural' only by a stretching of the term, to rest a while at present on the borders of 'expressionism', in which he, whilst preserving naturalism and realism in subject matter, simplifies beyond optical, i.e. photographic accuracy'. 1
The present lot is consistent with the first "phase" of Harvey's work, where his subjects are dominated by the harbours, fishing vessels and fishermen of West Cornwall. While Harvey did not exhibit any major works in 1906, he did produce a number of striking images, many of which were set around Newlyn harbour, such as Carrying the Oars, Sailing in Newlyn harbour and Whiffing (Christie's London, 30th November 2001, lot 35.)
Literature: McKonkey et al, Harold Harvey, Painter of Cornwall, Falmouth, 2001, passim
Notes: 1Colour, October 1920, pp.48-54, quoted in McKonkey et al, Harold Harvey, Painter of Cornwall, Falmouth, 2001, pp.93-95.