Carthillon Cliffs, 1878
John Brett (1831-1902)
Oil paint on canvas
Purchased for Thomas Holloway, 1883; acc. no. THC 0002
This landscape shows the Cornish coast, near Lizard town, looking north-west towards Kynance Cove. By the 1870s Brett had settled into the rhythm of holidaying by the coast during the summer in order to make sketches of the landscape, and then working these up into oil paintings in his studio over the winter.
Brett painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style using bright, jewel-like colours and following their doctrine of studying nature attentively. The rocks and lichen are painted in minute detail, faithfully recording the geological and botanical features of the area. As well as an artist, Brett was a knowledgeable scientist, interested in geology, meteorology and astronomy. He was also a keen sailor and had his own yacht upon which he liked to wear a captain’s uniform.