Robert Morton Nance was a writer and major exponent of the Cornish language as well as a painter and came from a large Cornish family. Though he was born in South Wales, he spent much of his boyhood in St Ives learning about sailing ships from his grandfather. He studied for a while at Cardiff Art School, as well as drawing in St Ives and in 1895 had three paintings shown at the Royal Academy. He also illustrated several maritime books for schools, such as 'Britain's Sea Story' published in 1905. In the following year he settled at Nancledra and began to establish a reputation as a multi-talented Cornish Renaissance man, writing, weaving and painting. In 1914 he moved to Carbis Bay, and as his love of the Cornish language deepened, so his interest in painting began to wane. Indeed, when he was asked in the 1920s why he no longer wanted to paint the sea, he replied, 'Why should I? There it is for all to see, and so much better than anyone could paint it'. He was a President of the Royal Institution of Cornwall. His work on the Cornish language was pioneering; he produced dictionaries and standardised the spelling of modern Cornish. In 1934 he was made the Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd.
Where to see this painting?
Royal Cornwall Museum
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