Worthing Museum & Art Gallery loans two iconic oil paintings to the Scottish National Gallery as part of their prestigious exhibition True To Life: British Realist Paintings in the 1920’s and 30’s
Over the summer the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art presented True To Life,an exhibition which focused on British Realist painting in the 1920s-30s, and featured two oil paintings supplied by Worthing Museum & Art Gallery.
The exhibition brought together 93 paintings by an almost forgotten generation of artists, and explored the realist tradition in British art between the two World Wars. It focused on scrupulously detailed British realist painting which has often been overlooked in favour of more avant-garde styles emerging during this period. True To Life was received fantastically well by visitors and in the UK media, which included being on the front cover of The Guardian, with a subsequent four star review. It also featured as a long-form cover feature in The Times who named it “The Exhibition of the Season” which was just one of its many accolades.
The first of the two oil paintings on loan from Worthing Museum & Art Gallery was Keith Henderson’s Harbour Crowd, c.1930-31. Exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1935, Harbour Crowd attracted much admiration. It was illustrated in The Tatler (8 May, 1935) where it was described as a ‘remarkably vivid painting’. It depicts a group of figures watching a spectacle by (according to the title) a harbour, under strong artificial lighting, and craning their necks upward. Henderson (1883 – 1982) was a landscape, figure painter and illustrator. He painted this at Burleigh near Stroud, Gloucestershire, and used people he knew as his models, for example his milkman and charlady feature in the foreground and left hand corner.
The second oil painting on loan was Ernest Procter’s All the Fun of the Fair, c.1924. Exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1924, it depicts the funfair at Newlyn, Cornwall. The view is facing the south, with the road along the front, The Strand, shown to the right. Ernest and Dod Proctor had recently moved into a former fisherman’s cottage at North Corner, just beyond the Strand, hidden among the buildings depicted in the top right portion of the painting. In 1929, the critic of the Manchester Guardian described it as ‘so perfectly arranged that there is no sense of restlessness or diffusion of interest.’ Ernest Proctor (1886-1935) was a painter and designer, he was born in Tynemouth, Northumberland. He moved to Cornwall in 1907 to become a member of the Newlyn School of painters, where he was inspired by its founding member Stanhope Forbes. The vivid colours and excitement of fairground activities were a source of fascination for Procter, who often painted such scenes.
Emma Walder, Art Curator, Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, Says “When the Scottish National Gallery approached us early in the year it was a really pleasant surprise. To have the opportunity to display two pieces from our collection to a new national audience was a privilege, and to have that work displayed as part of such a highly prestigious exhibition which has had phenomenal reviews is a real honour. It had taken many months to organise and prepare the pieces ready for collection, delivery and display and now we’re incredibly proud to have been involved in this project, and we hope that we can continue to work with national galleries such as this one in the future.”