Museum Highlight

Cyril C Pearce

Anyone setting off on their summer holidays to Barnstaple, Devon might be able to help identify the exact location of this painting? [Highlighted: June 2022] And Kerry did! (see below) [Updated: March 2023] 

Yeo Vale, Barnstaple
Cyril C Pearce (1882–1957)

Oil on canvas
35.5cm x 27.5cm
Date: About 1954

RGA Vice president 1946–1951
Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1954.38.1

This oil painting entitled Yeo Vale, Barnstaple was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists Twenty-Fourth Annual Exhibition, Municipal Art Gallery Reading, June 12 – July 10 1954.

Cyril Pearce RBA was an original member from 1930, he briefly left in 1934 before returning in 1941. He became the Vice-president of the RGA in 1946. Upon his retirement as Vice-president in 1951 he is described by EV Watson in The Reading Guild of Artists History 1930-1980 as a ‘distinguished artist, former teacher of painting and composition in Reading School of Art, member of the Magic Circle and gifted maker of toys, was the possessor of a most lovable and engaging personality. He had given much help to the Guild since the earliest days and more recently his paintings had been consistently one of the strong features of the annual show.’ He continued to exhibit until 1956.

In 2022 while on holiday near Barnstaple, RGA member Kerry Webb was able to narrow down the location this painting was inspired by. Although the road layout and bridge have changed since the 1950s, the view is likely to be up along the High Street from the bridge at the end of Rolle Street as it crosses the River Yeo. The tower roof peeping out is identified as Victoria Chambers, 63 High Street. Originally a Temperance Hotel opened in 1888, today the building is used as office space and clothes shop.

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