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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence
The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
James Finlay Fine Art Appraisals

Chapter 8. The Case of Looe Pool

Several weeks ago I received a call from a gentleman who wanted his collection of paintings appraised for insurance purposes.

After reviewing the collection I surmised that three pieces, an exquisite oil on canvas and two well-executed watercolours, all by the same hand, exhibited sufficient artistic merit to warrant a written appraisal.

S.J. Lamorna Birch, Looe Pool

S.J. Lamorna Birch, Harvest Time

S.J. Lamorna Birch, Lamorna Cove looking towards Carn Dhu

My client indicated he was a second generation relative of the artist and that he had inherited the two watercolours some years ago. The oil painting, he had purchased at auction, some 25 years earlier.

The paintings were signed by S.J. Lamorna Birch and in some cases dated. The oil had a gallery label on the reverse, which included the title of Looe Pool, Helstrom. The larger of the two watercolours was inscribed on the back “Harvest Time”, while the smaller watercolour appeared to be a hand-painted, personalized, Christmas card sent to “Charlie” in 1940. I was astounded to discover that the illustrious relative of my client was the renowned British painter, Samuel Lamorna Birch R.A. (1869-1955).

Samuel John Birch was born in Egremont, Cheshire. Birch first visited West Cornwall (England) in the late 1880s and settled in the Lamorna Valley in 1892. He adopted the epithet Lamorna in 1895 to distinguish himself from fellow artist Lionel Birch (an idea suggested by Stanhope Forbes).

He is regarded as the father figure of the later group of ‘Newlyn’ artists, which included Laura and Harold Knight (who he met in 1907), Alfred Munnings, Frank Gascoigne Heath, Stanley Gardiner and Charles and Ella Naper, forming a second artists colony in the Lamorna Valley, often referred to as the Lamorna group. Birch was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy (a.r.a.) in 1924 and was made a full Royal Academician (r.a.) eight years later.

The oil titled Looe Pool, Helstrom was probably purchased from the S.J. Lamorna Birch Memorial Exhibition, Fine Art Society, London, October 1955. The title refers to the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall. The pool was originally the estuary of the River Cober which flows through the former port of Helston. The Pool is reputed to be the lake in which Sir Bedivere cast King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur. Local superstition also warns that the Pool claims a victim every seven years.

The watercolour titled Harvest Time is possibly a view in the Cotswolds and probably dates from the 1920s, painted during one of Birch’s visits to his friend and etcher Frederick Griggs at Campden, Gloucestershire. The small watercolour Christmas card depicts a view from the Lamorna harbour wall (Lamorna Cove) looking towards the rocks at Carn Dhu (black rock-pile).

On completing the appraisal, I was informed by my client that other relatives also owned works by their illustrious ancestor. These included drawings, watercolours and small oils, mainly images in and around Lamorna Cove, Cornwall.

Next: The case of Cornel.

 Fri, Apr 6, 2007