Anchor History

Stanhope Forbes
John Wells
Anchor Studio
with glass house
Newlyn Art School class
at Anchor

Anchor Studio was built in 1888 by Arthur Bateman for Stanhope Forbes RA, and originally called Meadow Studio. It has granite rubble and weatherboarded timber frame walls with a scantle slate roof, and is a good example of a late Victorian purpose-built artist’s studio. Situated in the heart of Newlyn overlooking the harbour, it was one of a group of studios built on ‘The Meadow’ for the Newlyn School artists, and listed Grade II in 2004.

It appears from an early photograph that it started as a single story stone building to which was attached a glass house built on stilts. The glass house was then converted to form a timber frame structure, and later the stilts infilled to provide modest living accommodation below.

Stanhope Forbes is the best known member of the Newlyn School, a group of mainly British artists who were united by a desire to paint ‘en plein air’, depicting the lives of the villagers in a rural naturalistic style. They were particularly fascinated by the working lives of the fishing community, and captured all aspects of its way of life.

In 1899 Stanhope Forbes married his first wife, the noted Canadian painter Elizabeth Armstrong, and after Elizabeth died in 1912 he married his former pupil and family friend Maudie Palmer. Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes founded the Newlyn Art School at Anchor Studio in 1899, and over the next forty years it was used for life classes and here they taught many eminent artists.. The school closed in 1940, and Stanhope Forbes died in 1947.

John Wells, one of Forbes’ former pupils, then bought it from his widow and lived and worked there from 1949 until his death in 2000. Friends with Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, he produced abstract paintings and relief constructions, and although based in Newlyn, he was at the centre of artistic activity in post-war St Ives. He was close friends with Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron and Bryan Wynter, and one of the founder members of the Crypt Group and Penwith Society of Artists.

When John Wells died in 2000, Anchor Studio was bequeathed to the Borlase Smart Trust, which changed its name to the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust to acknowledge this gift.

To read about the Cornwall Fishing Industry 1880-1900 as portrayed by the Newlyn painters Click here (pdf)