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

Tucking a School of Pilchards, 1897

Oil on canvas

Percy Craft

1856 - 1934

Craft's fellow Newlyn School artists were sometimes disparaging about his work, feeling that he had bitten off more than he could chew at times. Nevertheless, he produced some key works, such as 'Tucking a School of Pilchards', and was a central figure in the life of the art colony and the village.



Percy Craft - 1856 - 1934

Percy Robert Craft was born in Kent in 1856 and educated privately. He studied at Heatherley’s and the Slade in London, but there is no evidence to suggest that he travelled abroad to study, like so many of the other Newlyn artists.

In 1885, Craft and his wife came to Newlyn and lodged in the same house as Stanhope Forbes. Although Craft exhibited at the Royal Academy, he often struggled to sell his work.

However, he was the organiser, inspiration and director of the Newlyn artists’ informal Dramatic Society and was an excellent actor. He also sang, gave recitals and wrote poetry and music.

Craft was also closely involved in the formation of the Newlyn Industrial Class (who were responsible for the making of Newlyn Copper) and helped J. D. Mackenzie and F. W. Boudillion to run the Fisherman’s Rest.

Percy Craft and his wife left Newlyn in the late 1890s and eventually moved to London, where Craft was particularly active in the organisation of exhibitions for the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists, of which many of the Newlyn artists were members.