Walter Langley RI (1852-1922)

Walter Langley was the first major artist to settle at Newlyn in Cornwall, and as such was one of the most important of the colony of artists there. While to some extent overshadowed by Stanhope Forbes, the archetypical Newlyn School artist, Langley's work is consistently of a high standard and very characteristic of Newlyn.

Langley was the son of a Birmingham tailor, and was apprenticed to a firm of lithographers in that city before winning a scholarship in the South Kensington School to study design. He returned to Birmingham as a lithographer, but turned to painting in the late 1870s.

Langley settled in Newlyn in 1882, two years before Stanhope Forbes, and later lived at Penzance. His best work is considered to be largely that of the 1880s, mainly in watercolour, though he later turned to oils. His subjects, as with the other Newlyn painters, were typically Cornish fisherfolk, and he had a particular fondness for single figures leaning on their elbows sitting in interiors and looking pensive. Although the Newlyn ideal was realist, almost bleak, some of Langley's work tended towards the sentimental.

Betrayed, etching by Walter Langley.

Langley's best work, to my mind, is Never Morning wore to Evening but some Heart did Break (1893) at Birmingham, and there are also other, earlier works in that collection. A good Cornish Ideal is in the Walker Art Gallery, and an example of his sentimental style is Admiration at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath. Other works by Langley are widely distributed, and his reputation stands high enough that they tend to be on the walls of the galleries rather than in the basements.

Newlyn School // Other artists