An American artist who visited and worked in St Ives and the surrounding area, and from whose journal lodged in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, Tovey (2009) has been able to extract some interesting observations and accounts of artists and their practices in the colony. Irvine, like John DOUGLAS (another artist of St Ives), was interested in photography, and bought the three books that Douglas had illustrated with photos for Alan Gardner FOLLIOTT-STOKES about the Cornish moors and coastline, books that he could transport home to America to help him complete his marine paintings.
Irvine and his wife rented a cottage near Zennor in 1923, and he worked at several places around the area. 'Certainly, Wilson Henry Irvine was told in 1923 that an artist had been thrown into the harbour for working on the waterfront on a Sunday' (Tovey, p296), ensuring that the American did not take up the disgraceful habit of desecrating the Sabbath. Irvine was also the artist in 1923 who espied the work on the pub walls in St Ives by his fellow American George BRUESTLE, and Richard Hayley LEVER who had immigrated to America and achieved much greater success there than previously he could in England. A summary of his stay in St Ives in the spring of 1923 does not reflect well on the artists left in the community at that time, post war and in the midst of a depressed art market, though the honesty and kindnesses of the fisherfolk shine through. (pp366-7).
works and access
Access to work: Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Irvine papers (Reel 3564)
Tovey (2009) St Ives: Social History