A descendant of considerable Cornish lineage, Harold Harvey was one of the few Newlyn artists to spend his entire life in Cornwall, apart from one brief period abroad. Described in
, 1924, as one of the 'truest and sincerest of British Painters,' his works were considered 'genuine interpretations of place and people', and praised for their success in conveying 'the peculiar and rather wistful geniality of this corner of England'.
He first studied under Norman Garstin, and then went to Paris during the 1890s where he continued his studies at the Academie Julian under Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens. On his return, he married Gertrude, who was also an artist, and they settled in Newlyn.
A prolific painter of varied subjects and styles, Harvey never achieved his due critical acclaim. He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy from 1898-1941 and held several one-man exhibitions in London, at the Mendoza Galleries, Barbizon House and the Leicester Galleries.
Harvey's artistic development reveals an ability to assimilate the changing Newlyn styles. The muted palette of his first works denote an appreciation of the early generation, especially Alexander Stanhope Forbes. he then adopted a more brilliant colours, comparable to the contemporary works produced by Laura Knight. From circa 1915, he painted in an increasingly flatter, decorative style and broadened the range of his subjects which now included sophisticated interior scenes. By the 1920s his figures both in stye and scale betray the influence of Dod Procter.
Essentially a realist painter of local life, Harvey's works reflect above all a deeply felt commitment to his beloved Cornish home.
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