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

The Milk Cart

Oil on canvas, purchased in 2015 with the help of The Friends of Penlee House and The Art Fund

Frank Gascoigne Heath

1873 - 1936

Student and close friend of Stanhope Forbes, Frank Heath was part of the Lamorna Group of artists.



Frank Gascoigne Heath - 1873 - 1936

Frank Heath was born in Coulsdon, the youngest of 12 children. In the 1890s he enrolled as a student of the South Kensington Schools (now Royal College of Art), the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and the Herkomer School in Bushey. Whilst painting in Brittany he met and became a close friend of Stanhope Forbes and consequently followed him to Newlyn in 1902. He found lodgings at Trewarveneth Farm on the outskirts of Newlyn and it was from here that he had his first picture accepted for the RA in 1907 ('Shoving Off'). Trewarveneth was the home of a great many artists, including the Forbeses, and Alfred Munnings was a regular visitor. Stanhope Forbes' second wife Maudie (whom he married after Elizabeth's untimely death in 1912 from cancer) was godmother to Heath's only son Toby. Forbes' later, fluid, painterly style had a great influence on his student. 

Frank Heath moved to the Lamorna Valley in 1910, to 'Menwennion', after his marriage to Jessica Doherty, herself a student at the Forbes School. Although the Newlyn School plein air ethos continued, the second generation had a different focus of their art, and Frank Heath's work is typical of this shift away from grey-lit narrative painting towards clear turquoise seas, lush vegetation and warm sunshine of west Cornwall. They also moved their centre from Newlyn itself towards the surrounding countryside, many, including Frank Heath, settling in the wooded valley leading down to Lamorna Cove, about 4 miles west. His neighbours were Laura and Harold Knight at Oakhill, and Lamorna Birch taught Frank Heath's youngest daughter perspective and how to paint the pattern of light on water. 

In his obituary in The Times, 23 June 1936, Frank Heath was described as 'having been for many years a popular member of the artistic community in Newlyn, Cornwall and his most characteristic work was done in the Lands End district. Painting both the figure and the landscape, he was essentially an open-air artist, direct in his methods with a good sense of values and a fine taste in colour.'