Gull on the Cornish Coast by Charles H Thompson (1870-1946)


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Gull on the Cornish Coast attributed to Charles H Thompson (1870-1946)

A wonderful study of a lone gull on the rocky Cornish coast. Signed with initials CHT (lower left).

Oil on board, 26 x 35cm presented in a gilt frame with off-white slip.

The work is confidently attributed to Charles H Thompson who lived and painted in Lamorna from 1903. His marine paintings included works such as 'Twilight and Silvery Night' (1905); 'The Flung Spray, and the Blown Spume' (1926); 'The Cormorant's Cave' (1926); 'The Cauldron' (1928) and 'Near Land's End' (1937).

He studied at the Herkomer School in Bushey 1892-1894. For some time afterwards he stayed on in Bushey, renting one of the Meadow Studios (number 10).

His future wife, Heather SUTCLIFFE, started at the Herkomer School in the same year as Thompson  - and he painted a portrait of her which was shown at the RA in 1894. She was two years older, being born on December 13th 1868.

He fell ill and was diagnosed as possibly suffering from TB so he went to South Africa for the warmer climate. Heather could not afford to go with him. In South Aftrica he missed Heather so much that he decided to have the portriat of her shipped over. The ship sank and her cargo was lost, so Thompson was paid compensation- which was enough to pay for a ticket for Heather to join him. They were  married in South Africa and their son was born c 1898. 

They moved to Cornwall in  1903, moving from Newlyn up into Oakhill Cottage, at the top of Lamorna, on the through road near Trewoofe. Thompson continued to paint, as did his wife. They captured the beauty of the landscape in a series of canvases that are unexpectedly impressive.

In1905 Thompson was appointed the first curator of the WATTS GALLERY at Compton, Guildford.  It was a prestigious post.  Mrs Thompson managed the pottery, which was very busy. Thompson saw the construction of the sculpture gallery and looked after the great Watts legacy. One aspect was a school and workshop for clay sculpture. Students for this were based at The Hostel at Compton. The Thompsons lived on site in the house which is still used by the curator today. They remained there for a decade.

IN 1915 they moved back to the far west of Cornwall. They set up home at Chyvarrian, on the road beyond Lamorna, leading towards Lands End, above the beautiful Penberth Valley .  In 1927 the Western Morning News praised a marine painting shown at Newlyn
He became a familiar figure, walking around the area in an distinctive old felt hat. Heather died in 1936.

Thompson died while staying at Worthing. His body was brought back for burial at Sennen (very prominent memorial).
Chyvarrian had been leased. Many paintings were destroyed as the studio was cleared.

While in Lamorna, the artist and his wife Heather (nee Sutcliffe) lived in Oakhill Cottage and Chyvarrian. In 1937 at NAG he showed Near Land's End.

Source: Cornwall Artists Index, https://cornwallartists.org/

Gull on the Cornish Coast