Alethea Garstin

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Alethea Garstin (1894–1978) was a Cornish artist and illustrator who exhibited paintings regularly at London's Royal Academy from an early age.

Life and work[edit]

Garstin was born in Penzance, Cornwall on 1 June 1894, the daughter of painter Norman Garstin and his wife Louisa. She was trained as a painter by her father, and joined him on his trips round France on his bicycle.[1][2] She first exhibited a painting, "The Chairmakers", at the Royal Academy in 1912[3] and the president of the Royal Academy was so impressed that he asked to meet her.[1] She also displayed a much larger painting of the Market Place at Gemene, Brittany, the following year.[4]

Garstin later created illustrations for magazines including Punch and Tatler.[2] She continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy until 1945 and was elected as a Member of the Royal West of England Academy in 1949.[2]

Notable exhibitions[edit]

Garstin's works were considered tonal and she was able to contrast temperature with different colours and tones.[1] Her best known exhibitions include the Adams Gallery, Pall Mall, London in 1940 which was a solo exhibition of over 60 paintings, highlights being "Penzance Promenade" and "Penzance Harbour". The Western Morning News described the latter as "something of the effective simplicity and artistic economy of selection that the best modern French paintings have."[5]

In the United Services Centre, Plymouth in 1945, where Garstin put on a joint exhibition with Newlyn painter Gertrude Harvey.[6] and she put on a joint exhibition with her father's works entitled Norman and Alethea Garstin. Two Impressionists - Father and Daughter, Newlyn,[2] Bristol, Dublin and London in 1978.[7]

Public collections[edit]

Paintings by Garstin are currently in the Government Art Collection and the collections of the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, the Royal West of England Academy and the National Trust.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Baskervyle-Glegg, Diana (2004). "Garstin, Norman (1847–1926), landscape and genre painter". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40916.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d Gray, Sara (2009), The Dictionary of British Women Artists, The Lutterworth Press, pp. 113–114, ISBN 978-0-7188-3084-7
  3. ^ "Penzance Child Artist's Picture At The Academy". West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser. 16 May 1912. p. 7. Retrieved 19 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive. The article claims she is "probably the youngest painter to exhibit in the famous galleries at Burligton(sic) House" and "is not yet thirteen years old" (though this conflicts with her stated year of birth in other sources).
  4. ^ "Royal Academy And Other Pictures". Cornishman. 20 March 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 19 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ "Our London Letter: Clever Penzance Artist". Western Morning News. 7 May 1940. p. 2. Retrieved 19 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. ^ "City Exhibition: Newlyn and Penzance Artists". Western Morning News. 7 July 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 19 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ Norman Garstin: The Bull Hotel, Burford, Tate Gallery. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  8. ^ 15 paintings by or after Alethea Garstin at the Art UK site. Retrieved 19 October 2015.