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

Among the Missing - Scene in a Cornish Fishing Village, 1884


Walter Langley

1852 - 1922

Langley is generally dubbed the pioneer of the Newlyn School, as he was the first of the group to settle in the village. Whereas most of his fellow Newlyners concentrated on painting in oils, Langley excelled at watercolour, producing narrative works imbued with almost overwhelming pathos.



Walter Langley - 1852 - 1922

Born in Birmingham, Walter Langley is generally dubbed the pioneer of the Newlyn School, as he was the first of the Newlyn School artists to settle in the village, setting up his studio in 1882. Like many of his fellow Newlyn artists, he had spent time in Brittany before discovering Cornwall, and some of his early Cornish works feature local models wearing the picturesque Breton costume.

Langley started his artistic career at the age of fifteen, when he was apprenticed to a Birmingham lithographer. At twenty-one, having completed his apprenticeship, he won a scholarship to South Kensington, where he studied design. Langley returned to Birmingham to continue as a lithographer, but spent his spare time painting and soon gave up lithography to concentrate on this aspect of his work.

Although Langley was an accomplished painter in oils, he mainly painted in watercolour, often on a large scale. Using this demanding and difficult medium, he portrayed scenes of everyday life in a small fishing village, highlighting the hardships and tragedies that were commonplace during that period.

Langley remained based in West Cornwall throughout his career, and died in Penzance in March 1922.

For further information, see 'Walter Langley: Pioneer of the Newlyn Art Colony', Roger Langley, published by Sansom & Co.

The painting 'Among the Missing' is one of the objects chosen to represent Cornwall in the BBC's 'History of the World' project.