Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

Camilias

Oil on canvas. Gift of Barbara Dalgarno

Jill Garnier

1890 - 1966

Jessie Blyth, always known as Jill, came to Newlyn to study at the Forbes school, where she met her future husband (and cousin) Geoffrey Garnier. The couple were to become central figures in the later Newlyn School, their home being the setting for many gatherings.

portfolio

Biography

Jill Garnier - 1890 - 1966

Always known as Jill, she was actually christened Jessie Caroline Dunbar Blyth. Educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, from early in life Jill showed great promise as an artist. In 1913 she enlisted in Stanhope Forbes’ school where she met her husband-to-be, Geoffrey Sneyd Garnier. Jill and Geoffrey became engaged in 1916 and were married on 9 July 1917 at St. Peter’s Church, Newlyn.

The couple settled in Orchard Cottage, Newlyn, where first Geoffrey, then Jill, had substantial studios built in the garden. Geoffrey put in a regular day’s work as an etcher/engraver and producer of aquatints for almost 50 years. Jill, however, had to divide her time between her art and running a home and bringing up a family.

Her life was one of constant frustration – she was often heard to complain “Why do I have to spend half my time doing the housekeeping when I could be painting?” – but she continued to paint, albeit intermittently, almost until her death in 1966, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Artists (FRSA). She was also an accomplished needlewoman, producing exquisite embroideries to her own design.

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