The Castle, Salcombe

by Samuel John Lamorna Birch

P.O.A.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 47.6 x 58.1 inches
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘S.J. Lamorna Birch’ (lower left)
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

Salcombe Castle or Fort Charles is a ruined fort just off the beach of North Sands in Salcombe, Devon, UK. It is on a rocky outcrop, easily reached  on foot at low tide, thought to be constructed in the reign of Henry VIII.

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    Though born in Cheshire, Lamorna Birch settled in Cornwall drawn by the fame of the Newlyn School of Painting. On the advice of Stanhope Forbes, he spent a year studying in Paris though he was mostly self taught. On his return he sold all his work at an exhibition in Lancaster and had two works accepted at the Royal Academy in London. By 1899 he was exhibiting widely, at the Royal Institute, the Walker Art Gallery and in Manchester and Birmingham. He continued to show a large number of works at the Royal Academy until his death and he became a Royal Academician in 1934. He traveled in Europe and went to New Zealand and Australia.

    Private Collection, United Kingdom

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    Samuel John Lamorna Birch was born in Egremont, Cheshire, on 7 June 1869. As a boy he moved to Manchester and later to Halton, near Lancaster, working in an office or mill and painting at dawn or sunset before and after his work hours. As a result Birch was self-taught as an artist but he did spend a year in Paris at the Atelier Colarossi between 1895 and 1896.

    From 1889 he regularly visited Cornwall and was influenced by Stanhope Forbes, who had settled at Newlyn in 1884 and who founded the Newlyn School of Art in 1899 with his wife Elizabeth Adela Armstrong.

    In 1897 Birch settled at St. Buryan moving in 1902 (the year of his marriage) to Lamorna, near Penzance. At this time there was an artist named Lionel Birch living in Newlyn and at the suggestion of Stanhope Forbes, Samuel John Birch took the additional name of Lamorna in order to distinguish himself.

    A great deal of his work was carried out in Cornwall, but he did not confine himself to this area as he was a keen fisherman and he made frequent visits to Scotland, Wales, the North West of England and the West Country to indulge his twin passions of painting and fishing.

    Lamorna Birch established an excellent reputation and exhibited his work widely, including 227 pictures at The Royal Academy, where he exhibited for fifty consecutive years between 1905 and his death on 7 January 1955 at Lamorna. Lamorna Birch exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Manchester City Art Gallery and at the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours. Works by the artist can be found in the Tate Gallery, London.

    The Royal Academy Illustrated, published by Authority of the Royal Academy, 1923, p.105

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