Oil on Canvas, 19x26cm.
Edwin Harris 1855 – 1906
Whenever interest is shown in the work of Edwin Harris it always seems to be centred around the years he spent in Newlyn in the company of Stanhope Forbes and the other Newlyn artists. This has meant that his work before he went to Newlyn has tended to be ignored, even though he was already exhibiting at the RBSA in 1877.
A landscape, genre and figure artist, Harris was born in Ladywood, Birmingham, where he was educated locally and met W. A. Breakspeare who was to become his lifelong friend. After receiving his initial training at the Birmingham School of Art he went to Verlat’s Academy in Antwerp, where he met Breakspeare again, who was already a student there.
After returning to Birmingham in 1880 Harris made several exploratory trips to Newlyn, and finally settled there in 1883.
He spent twelve happy years in Newlyn, which were marred only by the death of his wife. During that time her painted mostly scenes of pretty girls against a background of a cottage interior, or anecdotal subjects which sometime featured old men, as in ‘Resting’ above. Unlike Stanhope Forbes, Harris did not seem to have any empathy with the local fishing folk.
Fred hall painted an excellent portrait of Harris which shows him as a heavily moustached, faintly lugubrious-looking man with a pipe drooping from his mouth. The portrait is now in the possession of the Tate Gallery.
This Painting is illustrated in ‘A Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Artists’ by Adrian Vincent.