The Rain It Raineth Every Day by Norman Garstin

The Rain It Raineth Every Day by Norman Garstin (1889)

Most of you, who have read my blogs, may know by now that I took early retirement and am now running a small Bed & Breakfast establishment in a Welsh coastal town.  I pride myself in trying to give my guests the best stay they could ask for and each morning cook them the best breakfast possible and I am pleased to say my small establishment has received top ratings on a certain website.  The people that stay with my wife and I are from all over the world, some coming from hot climates.  Sadly, the only thing I cannot guarantee my visitors is the weather.  My breakfast room is in the conservatory and when the heavens open, I try and convince my diners that the sound of rain on the conservatory roof is actually worse than the conditions outside.  I am not sure whether I am believed!  I actually feel guilty about the weather they have to sometimes endure!  So why do I mention this?  It is certainly not an advert for my B&B but merely a lead in to today’s featured painting which highlights the worst of the British weather.  My Daily Art Display’s featured painting today is entitled The Rain it Raineth Every Day and it was completed by the Irish artist and writer Norman Garstin in 1889.

Norman Garstin was born in Cahirconlish, in County Limerick, Southern Ireland in 1847.  His mother was Irish and his father was of Anglo-Irish descent and he was their only child.  He displayed no early interest in art and on leaving school attended the Engineering College of Cork and it was during that time when he was studying to become an engineer and draughtsman that it became apparent that he had a great aptitude for drawing.  Because of this palpable talent for drawing, he moved to London to study architecture.  It was whilst living in the capital that he heard and read about the money that was to be made in the South African diamond fields.  The lure of a possible fortune to be made was too much for him to ignore and so in 1872 he journeyed to South Africa and the diamond field centre, Kimberley, in order to make his fortune.  He remained there for four years and for some time shared a tent with Cecil Rhodes, the English-born South African who was to become the founder of the diamond company De Beers and the founder of the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him.

Garstin did not make his fortune digging for diamonds and after four years he moved to Cape Town where with Frederick York St Leger, an Anglican clergyman and a fellow Limerick man he helped to edit the Cape Times newspaper.    He returned to Ireland but after a bad riding accident, in which he lost the sight of his right eye, Garstin made another career change and turned his attention to art.    He travelled to Antwerp in 1878 where he studied at the Koninklijke Academie, which had been founded two hundred years earlier by David Teniers the Younger.  It was here that Garstin studied under the Belgian painter, Charles Verlat.  From Antwerp he went to live in Paris in 1871, where he remained for three years studying at the studio of Carolus-Duran, the French painter and art teacher.  Whilst in Paris he made many friends in the artistic community, two of whom, Degas and Manet, were artists he looked upon as the greatest painters of their time.  After Paris, and influenced by the French naturalist painter, Garstin Jules Bastien-Lepage, Garstin travelled to Britanny to paint, which was a favoured place for naturalist painters at that time.   Later he travelled around the south of France, Spain, and Tangiers.  In 1885 he was in Italy and in Venice and it was during his European travels that he made friends with many artists who would later form part of the artist colony at Newlyn, which was to be his next port of call.

Garstin moved to Cornwall in 1886 and became one of the early members of the Newlyn School, an art colony situated in and around the small Cornish fishing village of Newlyn, which was situated close to the town of Penzance.  This newly found artist community was similar in nature to the Barbizon School on the outskirts of Paris, near the Fontainebleau Forest, which was established in the 1830’s.  In both cases the lure to these places was the fantastic natural light and the opportunity to paint outside, en plein air.  This opportunity to paint outside instead of in a studio was helped with the innovation of tubes of paint and the invention of the box easel with its built-in paint box, which made it much easier for artists to trek around the undulating countryside.  For Garstin, the fishing port of Newlyn had other things going for it as well.  It was cheap to live there and artists’ models were easy to come by and inexpensive.  The Newlyn School artists found the everyday life in the harbour and the nearby villages were ideal subjects for their paintings and their works often brought home the harsh conditions experienced by the fishing fraternity and the hazards and tragedies which were often associated with that profession.

It was also in 1886 that Garstin married.  The couple had two sons, one of whom was killed in the war and the other went on to be a respected writer.  In 1894, his wife, who was also a painter, gave birth to their daughter Alethea.  Garstin dedicated much time in teaching art to his daughter and she blossomed under his tutelage.  She was the youngest woman to have a painting accepted by the Royal Academy and went on to become a great en plein air artist in her own right and was once called “England’s leading Impressionist”.

Norman Garstin stayed in Newlyn for four years before moving to Wellington Terrace, Penzance in 1890.  He was not a prolific artist and so was not always able to support himself financially from the sale of his paintings.  For that reason he had to supplement his income by writing, teaching and giving lectures.  From 1899 onwards he would organize artist summer schools and led summer trips to the Continent for his students.  Garstin died in Penzance in 1926, shortly before his seventy-ninth birthday.

Today’s featured work by Garstin The Rain it Raineth Every Day derives its title from two of Shakespeare’s plays, Twelfth Night and King Lear.  In Act V, Scene I of Twelfth Night there is a soliloquy by the clown as he sings a song, the last line of each verse ends with the title of today’s painting:

When that I was a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

The painting depicts the promenade between Newlyn and Penzance on a windswept and rainy day, just like it is now, as I look out my window.  It was painted in 1899 and Garstin, with his hopes high, submitted it to the Royal Academy for inclusion in that year’s exhibition but the jury rejected it.  It is such a realistic painting that one can almost feel the sea spay on one’s face as one gazes at the painting.  The way Garstin has painted the scene is thought to have been influenced by works of Whistler, one of Garstin’s favourite painters.  On the left we see the Queens Hotel and further to the right we can just make out the parish church which lies behind a row of terraced houses.

The painting presently hangs in the Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance.  Of all Garstin’s works, this is the one he is remembered for.

So has the setting changed much since the time of Garstin?  I have to admit I have never been to Penzance but my thanks to Jane on whose website entitled Fleur Fisher in her World, I found this picture of the present day promenade

(http://fleurfisher.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/norman-garstin-irishman-and-newlyn-artist-by-richard-pryke/

The promenade at Penzance today

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About jonathan5485

Just someone who is interested and loves art. I am neither an artist nor art historian but I am fascinated with the interpretaion and symbolism used in paintings and love to read about the life of the artists and their subjects.
This entry was posted in Art, Art Blog, Art display, Art History, en plein air painters, Irish painter, Norman Garstin and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Rain It Raineth Every Day by Norman Garstin

  1. FleurFisher says:

    The bathing pool is new since Garstin’s time, and the low wall between the promenade and the road, but otherwise the scene has changed very little – from time to time we bump into visitors who have seen the painting and are trying to position themselves to see the same view.

    And looking at the promenade, from one of those little cottages, we an see that same wet grey weather.

  2. Anj says:

    Thank you for sharing this. If not for you and this blog I might never have been introduced to this artist and that would have been a big loss for me.
    Anj

  3. Pingback: Norman inness | Mendocinophoto

  4. Anne says:

    I recently acquired this painting from a charity shop. I did not know the artist at all but I loved it from the first I set eyes on it. It is so atmospheric, so evocative. Thank you for all the information about the artist – I have learnt alot. I was interested to read that the painting in 2012 was hanging in the museum in Penzance. I assume that it is not there now as I am assuming that what I have is the original. Perhaps you could throw some light on this for me.

    • The original painting is still hanging in the Penlee Museum, and so I imagine that what you have is one of many prints that have been sold over the years. My mother has one, and they can still be bought locally, framed or unframed.

  5. Pingback: Wet, Wet, Wet | cloughieseyes

  6. Matt McKenna says:

    I have this painting it raineth every day it is hanging in living room for the last thirty years I was thinking of selling it can you tell me what it would be worth.

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