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

PLEASE NOTE: it is necessary to close some of the galleries between exhibitions, so please do check what is open before making a special journey during those times. In 2016, the downstairs exhibition galleries will be closed for re-hang on 5 - 9 September & 21 - 25 November. Entrance to Penlee is FREE during rehang week.

Not all the paintings are on show at any one time. If there is a particular picture that you would like to see, please let us know in advance of your visit or on the day.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the current brochure

CLICK HERE for past exhibitions 


Compass'd by the Inviolate Sea: Marine Painting in Cornwall from Turner to Wallis

18 June - 3 September 2016

 From the 19th century onwards, artists were drawn to the Cornish coast, capturing on paper and canvas the romance and rawness of rocks and waves. After JMW Turner’s paintings and engravings from his visits in 1811 became widely known, leading British marine artists painted in Cornwall, producing iconic images of places such as Land’s End, St Michael’s Mount, Kynance Cove, Gurnard’s Head and Tintagel. From the 1880s, artists settled in Newlyn, St Ives and Falmouth and depicted the lives of the local fishing communities.  The marine tradition was continued in St Ives by Julius Olsson and later, his students, such as Borlase Smart and John Park. However, it was the naive marine paintings on bits of rough cardboard by rag-and-bone man, Alfred Wallis, which were to inspire a whole generation of British modernists. 
Immerse yourself in Penlee’s summer show and discover why the Cornish coast was held in such fascination by some of Britain’s finest artists. Curated with the assistance of David Tovey. 

Ground floor galleries: a selection of Newlyn School paintings on view upstairs in Gallery 5


Whilhelmina Barns-Graham: A Scottish Artist in St Ives

10 September - 19 November 2016

With work from every period of her varied career, this exhibition casts a light on the influence of her Scottish background, while exploring her training at Edinburgh College of Art and her continuing links to Scotland following her move to St Ives.

Originally from St Andrews, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912 – 2004) established an international reputation as a leading British modernist in St Ives, where she lived throughout her life. In 1951, she won the Painting Prize in the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall Festival of Britain Exhibition and went on to have her first London solo exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in 1952. She was included in many of the important exhibitions on pioneering British abstract art that took place in the 1950s. Though not short of exposure throughout the 1960s and 70s, her next greatest successes came in the last decade of her life.

Organised in association with The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust and curated by Lynne Green. To watch a short film about Whilhelmina Barns-Graham, 'Looking in Looking out' by Tim Fitzpatrick, 2012 for the Barns-Graham Trust, click on this link: Barns-Graham film
Ground floor galleries: a selection of Newlyn School and Lamorna Group paintings on view upstairs in Gallery 5