Born in Birmingham, Walter Langley is generally dubbed the pioneer of the Newlyn School, as he was the first of the Newlyn School artists to settle in the village, setting up his studio in 1882. Like many of his fellow Newlyn artists, he had spent time in Brittany before discovering Cornwall, and some of his early Cornish works feature local models wearing the picturesque Breton costume.

Walter Langley started his artistic career at the age of fifteen, when he was apprenticed to a Birmingham lithographer. At twenty-one, having completed his apprenticeship, he won a scholarship to South Kensington, where he studied design. Langley returned to Birmingham to continue as a lithographer, but spent his spare time painting and soon gave up lithography to concentrate on this aspect of his work.

Although Langley was an accomplished painter in oils, he mainly painted in watercolour, often on a large scale. Using this demanding and difficult medium, he portrayed scenes of everyday life in a small fishing village, highlighting the hardships and tragedies that were commonplace during that period.

Langley remained based in West Cornwall throughout his career, and died in Penzance in March 1922.

  • The Fisherman

    by Walter Langley

    Politically left wing for his era, Langley was noted for his social realist portrayals of working class figures, particularly fishermen and their families. He was a supporter of Charles Bradlaugh, a radical socialist politician. His own working-class background enabled him to identify with the villagers and the hardships they endured, many of his paintings reflect this sympathy with the working-class fisher-folk amongst whom he lived. DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 38.1 x 48.3 cm/15.0 x 19.0 ins SIGNATURE: Signed and dated '91 MEDIUM: Watercolour
  • Anxious News

    by Walter Langley

    Politically left wing for his era, Langley was noted for his social realist portrayals of working class figures, particularly fishermen and their families. He was a supporter of Charles Bradlaugh, a radical socialist politician. His own working-class background enabled him to identify with the villagers and the hardships they endured, many of his paintings reflect this sympathy with the working-class fisher-folk amongst whom he lived. DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 48.3 x 31.8 cm/19.0 x 12.5 ins SIGNATURE: Signed and dated '83 (lower left) MEDIUM: Sepia toned watercolour