Monday 27 November 2023

`Penlee Gallery, Penzance The Branfield collection

Penlee House in Penzance have an exhibition of works from the private collection of Pep and John Branfield Open now and until January 13th 2024. The art is to be sold at auction in February so this is a good opportunity to see it together. The first room has the oldest paintings. There is a Stanhope Forbes horse which I thought might be done using a photograph from the way it is framed - something rarely mentioned in discussing Newlyn painters. There is what looks like an abstract composition by Thomas Cooper Gotch but is a study for his ‘Lantern Parade’ Further on in the back gallery there is a small David Haughton, ‘Carn Bosavern’ of which he said the drawing of St Just was the hardest to do drawing of any for him. Was this because it’s hard to keep track of a row of houses observed with their great similarities but interesting differences? I liked very much the elegant pots by Peter Swanson. There is a Bryan Pearce of men bowling that does not employ his all round perspective. I wondered if the collector got his explanation of strange symbolism in a Patrick Hayman directly from the painter? Not all the pictures strike me as the artists’ finest work but perhaps the collectors tried to find affordable examples to make a comprehensive collection. The last pictures are by the living Kurt Jackson and there is a stunning large brown one of a vast scene, ‘Carnsew’. My favourite was Willy Barns-Graham’s ‘Gurnard’s Head’ with its wintry look and lively tree amongst buildings but I gathered the attendant would also make a bid for it.

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