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

Primrose Day, 1885

Oil on canvas

Ralph Todd

1856 - 1932

Ralph Todd was a popular figure amongst the Newlyn School painters, but he frequently struggled with his work and his friend Stanhope Forbes's letters often refer to him as 'Poor Todd', because of his difficulties both with painting and with money.



Ralph Todd - 1856 - 1932

Ralph Todd trained at South Kensington, London, before travelling to further his studies in Belgium, Holland and Paris. Like many of his fellow Newlyners, he spent time painting in the art colonies in Brittany, and it was here, in Quimperlé, that he met Stanhope Forbes and the two later became friends.

In 1883, Todd moved to Newlyn and strove to make a living from his art, sadly without great success. Forbes arrived in Newlyn the following year and rekindled his friendship with Todd, but despite his fondness for the man, he had little regard for his talent, writing that: ‘He is simply fighting a hopeless battle but is quite unaware of it and I cannot open his eyes. He has no art in him and were he to paint forever would do no real good work’.

Todd continued to battle with his artistic career with varying success, producing some charming and memorable works alongside some rather weaker ones. By the early 1890s he had moved to St. Keverne near Helston, and continued to paint, sometimes using the alias of Rupert Meneage. He primarily worked in watercolours, but was also competent in oils.