Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Falmouth Art. King Charles The Martyr Church. Wayfaring Men by BurleighBruhl. The Crucifixion. Caspar David Friedrich. Falmouth Art Gallery:Tuke, Turner, Laura Knight, Alfred Munnings, Raoul Dufy, Matisse, ManRay, Picasso. Chris Billington.

File:Falmouth Cornwall Harbour.jpg
              Falmouth, Cornwall
     Harbour, National Maritime Museum and Pendennis Castle
Falmouth is a busy working port, with the third largest harbour in the world, it is therefore not as touristy as other Cornish resorts and locals, sailors and students from the nearby university town of Penryn throng the streets.  Many houses and shops have sea views, and the main street runs parallel to the harbour. The imposing National Maritime Museum on Discovery Quay was opened in 2003 and has given new life to the town, with a large square for events in front of it and good restaurants all around including Rick Stein's Fish Restaurant. There are lovely beaches and it is fun to go on fishing trips and on the frequent ferries which run to Truro, Flushing, St Mawes, Place and Helford village. 

For art lovers The Falmouth Art Gallery has a good collection of artists including work by Henry Tuke, Turner,  Laura Knight,  Alfred Munnings, Raoul Dufy, Matisse, Man Ray and a lithograph by Picasso.  

Inside the church of King Charles The Martyr on Church Street hangs a gem of a religious oil painting, The Wayfaring Men by Burleigh Bruhl. Astonishingly the church which dates back to 1622 is not even mentioned as a place to visit on the Falmouth website.  The history of the painting is well-documented, with a detailed description by Mrs J. Winslade, the Lay Reader of the Church. My thanks go to her, The Reverend Stephen Tudgey, Serena Stewart for cropping the photo and Mrs Jenny Andrews, the church guide.  The painting however does not figure on the church website, although it should.
1929. Wayfaring Men by Louis Burleigh Bruhl,  1861-1942
King Charles The Martyr Church, Church Street.
The painting is from Isaiah  35 describing the way to the Holy City.
 Description of 'The oil painting on the South wall of the Church'

 by kind permission of Mrs J. Winslade, BA., Lay Reader at the Church.

"To the casual observer, this painting looks like a gloomy Victorian pastoral scene, as it is not lit and is in need of cleaning. However, on closer inspection, the painting is a complex allegorical work entitled simply "Isaiah 35:vs. 7-8". It is signed but not dated by the artist, L. Burleigh Bruhl, one time president of Birmingham Water Colour Society.

There are two different opinions as to how the picture came to be in the church. On the one hand, the records of the late Ken Whittaker state it was given to the church as an anonymous thank-offereing, however Geoff Stobie in an erudite article in the parish magazine (February 1988), explains that the artist himself once quoted an 'appreciation' by the then Rector published in the Western Morning News after the painting had been purchased by public subscription. Either way, the picture appears to have been dedicated in July 1929.

Dominating the picture on the skyline slightly left of centre is a rather Scottish looking castle on a hill reached by a narrow path which winds from the valley floor. In the foreground is a pool, lit by the same shaft of light which appears above the castle. This light also illumines the path just to the right of centre of the picture on which a group of people stand gazing at Christ crucified on the Cross. The members of the group consist of a First World War soldier, a youth and a workman. In the centre of the painting further along the path stand a woman and child staring up at the castle across the ravine. To the left of the painting on a slightly higher lever is another crucifix, with a second group of people before it. 

On the right hand side, almost obscured in the misty distance is a pastoral scene consisting of a very Cornish looking hamlet, complete with a square towered Church.

Geoff Stobie offers the allegorical meaning of the subject: "And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitations of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the Way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." (Isaiah 35: 7-8) from the King James version of the Bible.

Geoff writes that the pool in the foreground represents verse 7, " the habitation of dragons shall be grass with reeds" and the castle on the distant skyline shows us the Holy City.  The way to it - the way of safety and peace - is the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross. It is a narrow road, leading through the Valley of Renunciation and then climbing to the heights. The wayfaring men cannot err as at each end there is a Cross as a signpost.

Three types of men - the student, the labourer and the soldier look up at the Cross, whilst the woman with the child in her arms points out the desirable haven to her offspring. In both cases age is teaching youth."

Geoff Stobie: Parish Magazine February 1998
Falmouth Packet July 1929.

Falmouth GWR poster, 1923-1942

Louis Burleigh Bruhl was born in Baghdad,  educated in Vienna and  studied medicine at the London Hospital. He lived in Romford, Essex, and then in Watford from 1916 until his death. He was president of the Watercolour Society and is today better known for his posters for the Great Western Railway of the Cornish and Devon Riviera. This versatile man also wrote a cookery book of Essex recipes. On seeing Burleigh Bruhl's Wayfaring Men - his favourite work -. I was immediately reminded of the great German landscape artist Caspar David Friedrich.  

              File:Caspar David Friedrich 040.jpg
The Tetschen Altar, or The Cross in the Mountains (1807).  Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden. Caspar David Friedrich's first major work, the piece breaks with the traditions of representing the crucifixion in altarpieces by depicting the scene as a landscape.

 Hemy, Charles Napier RA RWS (1841-1917): "Got 'em all" - The Bob Newbon lifeboat, signed and dated 1905. The etching shows a successful rescue.

Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973): Tete de Roi 
- Affiche pour le Carnaval de Nice,1951, Colour lithograph 
Falmouth Art Gallery

Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959): The Caravan, oil on canvas 
Falmouth Art Gallery
Knight, Dame Laura DBE RA RWS (1877-1970): In the Coulisse - Behind the Scenes -
probably of dancers from the Russian Ballet by Diaghilev.
The painting dates from the early 1920s
Falmouth Art Gallery
Knight, Dame Laura  (1877-1970) 
Portrait of a lady, oil, is attributed to Knight
and looks mighty probable
Falmouth Art Gallery

Henry Scott Tuke,  RA. RWS. (1858-1929)
Boy fishing, watercolour
Tuke often painted boys
Falmouth Art Gallery
Caulfield, Patrick RA (1936-2005): screenprint
She fled along the avenue
Falmouth Art Gallery

‘Rita Wins Again’ (2013) ~ 24in x 20in ~ acrylic on canvas ~ Falmouth Working Boat ~ 
by local Cornish artist Chris Billington.