The pier head 1910
oil on canvas
Stanhope Forbes was a founding member of the Newlyn School, an artist colony established in the 1880s located in a small fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall. Akin to other artist groups of the era, Newlyn School artists painted and sketched works in the open air in order to imbue their images with the passing effects of light and atmosphere.
The pier head depicts a group of onlookers gathered at the end of the pier at the harbour of Mousehole, observing fishing crews preparing their boats. As both a trade hub and a central meeting point for the town, the pier was a site where residents of all ages and classes congregated. This scene is a clear expression of Forbes’ interest in the day-to-day dynamics of small-town life, whilst also documenting the fishermen’s daily ritual that was integral to the region’s livelihood.