William Banks FORTESCUE


A Birmingham-born artist (29 July 1850), shown in the 1891 Census to be a Newlyn resident; he is also listed  by Charles MARRIOTT  as a St Ives artist.   Before taking up painting, and studying in Paris, he spent some time as an engineer of design. His subjects were landscapes, genre relating to ships and boats, and still-life. In 1883 he went to Venice for further study.

On his return he exhibited at RBSA (becoming ARBSA in 1884), and in 1885 moved to Newlyn with Norman GARSTIN (Frank), then to Paul, where he was near his close friend Stanhope FORBES (mentioned in 1885 Forbes letters), after which he moved to St Ives in 1894, settling in Treloyan Cottage and working from the Malakoff Studio.  A colour plate of his painting The Forge (By Hammer and Hand, All Arts doth Stand) is included in Hardie (2009), and reflects the depth, richness of colour and realism of the Newlyn school of artists.

At the St Ives Show Day 1911, he exhibited Fuel and Intruders.   He was one of the signatories of the Glanville letter (1898) expressing artists' concerns regarding over-development in the town.  In 1899 he was Elected RBSA .  He specialised in subjects showing work in the countryside such as woodcutting, hoeing and blacksmithing, working more in the Newlyn tradition of narrative painting. He often rode a horse cross-country, with his paints and easel strapped to his back. He died in St Ives age 73, and is buried at Zennor.


Landscape and figure painter

works and access

Works include: A Newlyn Cottage (c1890); The Potato Gatherers; Harvest Festival in a Cornish Fishing VillageBait DiggersLimpet GatherersGirl Driving GeeseFetching water from the Lamorna streamDonkey before a cottage, Trelzon Downs (1905); Guys Cliff MillFetching Water near Paul; Yearning; A Cornish Stile and Gleaning (latter 3 c1912/13); Sunny September Cornwall (1913); Newlyn, Old Harbour; On the Downs; Now Sunk the Sun (1920)

Access to work: Southport Corporation Archival Deposits; Penlee House, Penzance (Newlyn, Old Harbour; The Forge, on loan from NAG)



Notts Castle


RA (26) from 1887-1910

Truro Cornwall Fisheries Exhibition 1893

NAG Opening 1895

St Ives March 1909, March 1911; 

Malakoff Studio, St Ives (Fuel; Intruders; The Furze cutter) March 1912,  March 1913, March 1914 (w/c studies of Iceland), March 1915, March 1919, July 1919, September 1919, December 1919, February 1920; 

Lanham's 1913, 1914, Show Day March 1920; works for London Galleries March 1920

RA April 1920

Plymouth Summer 1912

Plymouth Art Gallery November 1917

RCPS September 1920

City of Hull Art Gallery March 1924


ARBSA 1894 (Elected 1899)

STIAC (President 1907)


Cornish Telegraph 25 Mar 1909

St Ives Times 25 Mar 1911, 22 Mar 1912, 5 Jul 1912, 28 Mar 1913, 28 Nov 1913, 26 Dec 1913, 6 Mar 1914, 27 Mar 1914, 17 Jul 1914, 19 Mar 1915, 9 Nov 1917, 14 Mar 1919, 16 May 1919, 4 Jul 1919, 12 Sep 1919, 12 Dec 1919, 20 Feb 1920, 5 Mar 1920, 19 Mar 1920, 16 Apr 1920 [from WMN],  24 Sep 1920, 14 Mar 1924


Cross (1994) Shining Sands

 Dowdeswell Exhibition catalogue (repr Hardie 2009)

'Forbes Letters' (1895) Tate Archive, London

Graves RA Dictionary 1769-1904

Green (1995) Artists at Home

Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery;

Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall;

Newton et al (2005) Painting at the Edge

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

Tovey (2009) St Ives: Social History;

Wainwright (1923) The Art of Walter Langley

Wallace (2002) Under the Open Sky

Wormleighton (1998) Morning Tide