On the Cornish Coast

On the Cornish Coast, 1880
John Brett (1831–1902)
Oil on Canvas
BORGM 00357
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Balcony  Pre-Raphaelite 

Slideshow Shim

On the Cornish Coast

Brett specialised in views of sea and sky and coastal subjects. He was known for detailed, accurate depictions of the natural world, inspired by the ‘truth to nature’ credo of the influential art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) and the artist William Holman Hunt (1827-1910).

Brett made his first visit to Cornwall on his honeymoon in 1870. He continued to make regular painting expeditions there over the following 30 years. Brett left over 200 known views of the Cornish coastline in which he recorded with Ruskin-like precision and Pre-Raphaelite intensity of colour the varied splendour of the cliffs.

It was these dramatic rock formations, as well as sea views which attracted Brett to Cornwall. The Magazine of Art ran a series titled ‘Artists Haunts’ in 1878 which features two long articles on Cornish cliffs. It wrote of this scene: ‘Then comes Porthcurnow, with its magnificent rocks and fine view of the famous Logan Rock… Here the unusually bright colour of the rhomboidal blocks of granite which build up the headland … covered in part with byssos, afford fine studies’.


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