The Channel Islands are a place of stunning natural beauty and naturally have therefore inspired a number of artists including Joseph Mallord William Turner, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Sarah Louisa Kilpack, Peter Le Lievre and Paul Jacob Naftel.
The Channel Islands have been depicted in numerous artistic styles through the ages including romanticism, impressionism, modern art and contemporary.
Romanticism J.M.W. Turner
Romanticism was an artistic style developed in the early 19th century and had roots in the expressions of feeling and emotion, and delving into the human psyche.
Famous British artists who embraced this style included Joseph Mallord William Turner and William Blake.
Turner’s sketchbook of Guernsey is now one of the most valued treasures of the Tate Gallery in London.
Two famous images are of Rocquaine Bay on the western coast of Guernsey. Both include Fort Grey, the ‘Martello’ Tower built here during the Napoleonic Wars.
Impressionism – Renoir
Impressionism is a style that developed in 19th century France where the brush strokes would leave an ‘impression’ of the image rather than using sharp lines.
The French artist Renoir spent some time on the island of Guernsey in later summer 1883. This resulted in a collection of around 15 impressionist paintings of the Guernsey coastline and life on the island. The collection included some rocky seascapes and some nude depictions of people relaxing on the Guernsey coast.
One of the most famous Renoir paintings depicting life on the island is Baigneuses à Guernesey showing bathers relaxing and enjoying themselves on the Guernsey coastline.
A ‘Renior Walk’ has now been created on Guernsey so that you can walk in the footsteps of Renoir and see first hand the views that inspired him.
Philip Ouless and his Marine Painting Career
Philip Ouless (1817–1885) was Jersey’s most celebrated marine painter. He moved from Paris to St Helier where he developed as a marine painted, gaining commissions from many shipyards due to the boom in 19th century.
In 1840, twenty-six of Ouless’s drawings were used in a series of lithographs for the Reverend Edward Durell’s Scenic Beauties of the Island of Jersey.
Modern Art in the Jersey Art Gallery
The Jersey Art Gallery houses some fantastic examples of Modern Art inspired by the islands. One of our favourites is the View of La Corbiere, Jersey by Claude Francis Barry (1883–1970). It shows the rocky coastline with the lighthouse in the distance.
Abstract Art – Richard Allen
Abstract painter Richard Allen was an artist who reinvented colour and form during Jersey’s swinging sixties. Some of his very modern abstract pieces can be found in the Jersey Art gallery today – Blue Square and Four Square. The striking blues and golds in his work are inspired by the colours of the sand and sea.
Contemporary Street Art
In St Helier’s recent ‘Paint the Town’ project the buildings of St Helier became a blank canvas. Contemporary artists including Will Bertram, Bokra and Abi Overland have completely transformed the area. For more information on the mural project, follow this LINK.
Would you like to explore more art in the Channel Islands? Then don’t miss the following article: The Coach House Gallery and Quay Gallery in Guernsey