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

'By Hammer and Hand, all Arts Doth Stand' (The Forge)

Oil on canvas. On loan from Newlyn Art Gallery.

William Fortescue

1850 - 1924

Like several of his fellow Newlyners, William Banks Fortescue hailed from Birmingham. Although he is very much recognised as a Newlyn School painter, he spent the majority of his painting career living and working in the rival art colony some seven miles away at St Ives.



William Fortescue - 1850 - 1924

One of the Newlyn School’s many Birmingham-born painters, Fortescue began his career as an engineering designer before setting out to train as an artist. He studied in Paris, going on to travel in Europe; he is thought to have visited Venice in c.1883/4, as he exhibited Venetian scenes at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists at this time.

Fortescue seems to have arrived in Newlyn around 1885, staying at Mrs. Maddern’s house, Belle Vue, where Stanhope Forbes was also resident. He was a lively contributor to the social life of the artists’ colony, playing the cello, taking part in theatrical performances and (like his fellow Birmingham artist, Walter Langley) clog dancing.

He appears as a Newlyn resident in the 1891 census, after which he moved to the nearby village of Paul for a few years, then moving to St. Ives, where he remained for the rest of life.

Fortescue was not the most prolific of the Newlyn painters, but did exhibit and sell his work, showing at Dowdeswell, Nottingham and Whitechapel art galleries. He died in St. Ives on 12th March 1924, aged 73.