Frederick Parr (1887-1970)

Parr was a prolific artist, who painted watercolours of picturesque corners of fishing villages in Cornwall and Devon. Parr was born on 13th November 1887 in Exeter. His father, Frederick William Parr, was a tailor, also Exeter-born, whilst his mother Rosa (née Chalk) had been born in Martock, Somerset. His painting career seems to have started after WWI and there are references to him exhibiting paintings at Eland’s Gallery, Exeter (a stationer’s shop that held art exhibitions twice a year) in 1922 and 1924. Although he rarely dated his work, one painting is dated 1929, and presumably he worked on into the 1930s. One note refers to him sharing an Exeter attic studio with Herbert William Hicks (1880-1944) for a time. Parr’s St Ives subjects tend to suggest that he was working there in the 1920s. Wharf Road has been built and the dress of the fishermen looks post-War. Invariably, he included in his subjects locals at work, placing them in the vicinity of quaint old buildings, whilst in the background can be seen glimpses of activity in the harbour. In St Ives, therefore, favourite scenes were Westcott’s Quay, Bethesda Hill, Fish Street, and Pudding Bag Lane. He also painted in Norway Square and The Digey. His interest in old buildings and the days of sail, rather than the newly motorised fishing boats, has probably led to his work being dated earlier than it was. Though verging towards the ‘chocolate box’ subject, Parr nearly always made his views contain something of social historical interest and are far better executed than similar subjects by T H Victor/W. Sands, Garman Morris, Arthur White, and others.

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