Back in 1918, when Joseph Tregenza was a baby, he and his mother were painted by the Cornish artist, Harold Harvey, of the Newlyn School. Joseph knew he had to track down the painting…
Take a look at Harold Harvey's Mother and Child, 1918
Joseph Tregenza, now 85 years old, only learnt of the existence of Mother and Child when his mother mentioned it in passing. He has spent the best part of 70 years searching for Harold Harvey's painting, but with not much luck - until now. He's located it in the National Gallery of Wales where, for years, it has been kept in storage, hidden from sight.
Joseph is now a regular at the museum, taking peek after peek at what he likes to call 'his painting' and it manages to delight him every time. Joseph is about a year old in the painting and his mother is 26. He says, "My mother's looking down at me very happy and very pleased. I don't think she was always pleased with me but she's certainly got that nice loving look".
When war broke out the government told artists to stop painting outdoors scenes because they might provide information useful to an invading army. This was a particular problem for the Newlyn school of painters because they were landscape painters.
Harold Harvey dealt with this problem by turning to portrait painting. Joseph and his family lived in Newlyn in those days. Harvey asked Joseph's mother if she and the baby Joseph would model for him. But Joseph says this was almost an everyday occurrence in Newlyn. "It was nothing to see an artist out in the street painting".
Joseph only found out about the painting when he was 13. He was shopping with his mother when they were approached by women who said "Good morning, Mrs Tregenza, we saw you in Liverpool last week". There had been an exhibition at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool. From then on, whenever Joseph came across an art gallery, he would search for the painting of Mother and Child.
But it all changed when Joseph's son visited an exhibition of Harold Harvey's work. And amazingly, Mother and Child was in the exhibition catalogue. When Joseph first saw the painting, he felt a sense of relief because he'd waited so long for this moment.
Joseph has reconciled himself to the fact that he'll never own the painting. He says, "Harold Harvey's paintings make £10,000, so I don't think they'll give it to me".
National Museum & Galleries of Wales
Other paintings by Harold Harvey at the NMGW
Other paintings by Harold Harvey at the Penlee House Gallery, Cornwall
Other paintings by Harold Harvey held by the Bridgeman Art Library
The Newlyn School