Painting the Warmth of the Sun: St Ives Artists 1939-1975

By Tom Cross

The story of the artists’ colony at St Ives, which attracted some of the most progressive painters and sculptors of the day.

ISBN: 9780718829421


By 1918 St Ives had a long tradition as an artists’ community. It took as its standard the Royal Academy, which retained great popular appeal, but was neither forward-looking nor progressive. In 1920 it became the permanent home of one of the great innovators of the twentieth century, the potter Bernard Leach. At the outbreak of the Second World War it provided shelter for a small group of the most progressive painters and sculptors, including notably Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, already leaders in the advanced art movements of the 1930s, and committed to the principle of abstraction. In the 1940s and 1950s a remarkable group of younger artists came together in and around St Ives, making it a centre of avant-garde art activity.

This book is concerned with those artistic events, especially during the years 1939-75, and the larger circumstances in the world of art by which they were affected, or which were affected by them. It describes the singular contribution of ‘St Ives’ to the art of our time.

Additional information

Dimensions 248 × 187 mm
Pages 208
Illustrations b&w and colour

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Tom Cross trained at the Slade School in London and then spent two years travelling and painting in Italy and France on Rome and French government scholarships. On his return he worked in Wales as Assistant Director of the Welsh Arts Council and later became Senior Lecturer in Painting at Reading University. In 1976 he became Principal of the Falmouth School of Art, a post which he held until 1987.


Introduction: Early times

1. Nicholson, Wood and Wallis
2. Traditional and modern: St Ives and London
3. Wartime in St Ives
4. Artists gather in St Ives
5. The Crypt Group and the Penwith Society; the Festival of Britain in London and St Ives
6. Post-war Britain; Nicholson’s growing reputation
7. Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leech and Denis Mitchell
8. Peter Lanyon
9. The development of abstraction; Terry Frost
10. International influences: Paris and New York; Peter Heron
11. Bryan Wynter, Alan Davie and Paul Feiler
12. St Ives in the 1950s
13. Roger Hilton
14. The importance of St Ives

Notes and references