The 1891 Census lists James LANHAM as an Artist-colourman, born in London, married to Lucy and living in the High Street, St Ives. His impact on West Cornwall was strong in that his Gallery was an important presence for the various Land's End artistic communities.
Herbert TRUMAN wrote an article in the St Ives Times outlining the principal advantages for artists in living in St Ives: ‘It is served by an agent for the framing and transport of pictures to and from London and provincial exhibitions and also for artists’ materials. Lanham’s Gallery, although small, is well-known and a great asset.’(p18)
Lanham's was the principal exhibition venue in the town, established 1887-89, with a hanging Committee responsible for organising the shows of work. Fellow artists from Newlyn and Lamorna exhibited together with local artistsat Lanham’s in the early years of the art colonies, much as the St Ives artists had at Newlyn at their Summer Shows of work and the Open Days, and Lanhams delivered supplies of paints, brushes and canvases (as originally suggested by Whistler) on a weekly basis around West Cornwall. Tovey comments, in his Social History of the St Ives artistic community (2009), that 'there is a frustrating lack of information about the paintings that were hung and sold there. No catalogues were printed, as the works hung were changed every month, and very few reviews exist of the exhibitions mounted.'
The Lanham Company was sold out of the family in 1911, but continued as an exclusive exhibition venue for St Ives until 1928 when the Porthemeor Studios came on stream with the sponsorship of the St Ives Society of Artists. The best history of Lanham's Ltd is provided by David Tovey within the social history of the town.
Another important function of Lanhams was as a letting agency for homes, lodgings and studios for the artists in St Ives. In the early 1920s, Lanham's agent had also proposed a management arrangement (ultimately unsuccessful) with the Newlyn Society of Artists to act as agent for local exhibitions, aside from the usual contracts with individual painters for transporting paintings to London. Terms could not be agreed, and the workload was considered (by Lanham) to be excessive, in light of small returns.
Artist and provider of Gallery space for artists local to West Penwith
St Ives Times 14 Jan 1927
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery
(2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p130)
Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash (pp 106-8)
(2009) St Ives: Social History (p320-4)
Whybrow (1994) St Ives (pp 38-9)