Every picture tells a story.....

This week I am taking part in Barbara's Paint Monthly where we are sharing favourite paintings or new art exhibitions. I always enjoy looking at paintings and taking time to notice details that tell us a story or gives clues to why it may have been painted.

The Spirit of Bridport via

What do you notice in this painting above? I see a young woman with a crown on her head, sitting on a throne. In her hands she is holding a distaff (a tool using for spinning). Outside the right hand window is a tea clipper heading for the shore. Maybe you recognise those cliffs from my blog? This picture is called the " Spirit of Bridport. "

Weaving the sailcloth via
In the next picture we are in a weaving shed. The ceilings are low, men and women are busy working on three different looms machines weaving sail cloth.
Out workers net braiding via
In the final picture we are in a cottage. The women and young girl are very busy braiding nets. A black cat watches their progress and in the distance you can see the village church and other cottages. In a corner a baby lies fast asleep in a basket.

What do you think of these paintings? My favourite is the bottom one, I love the colours and the way it portrays the work that was carried out by many women in the villages surrounding Bridport.The town has had a rope and net industry for the last 800 years, which is why rope and net is featured in all these pictures. (As this post is about the painting I will leave the story of the rope industry to another time.)

The artist Francis Henry Newbery also known as 'Fra' Newbury believed that art was an activity that the whole community could participate in. These are only a few examples of the paintings/panels he produced for public display in the town hall, which celebrate the history and culture of the area.  He would never have imagined that in future these pictures could be shared (through the internet) all around the world!

Francis Newbery is better known for being the successful headmaster of the Glasgow School of Art from 1885 - 1946. He made the school one of the major art institutes in the world. Under his leadership the school expanded and outgrew it's premises. An architectural competition was arranged to design a new building. Charles Rennie Mackintosh won the competition and created the wonderful building that became one of the best examples of 20th century architecture. It was sadly damaged by fire in 2014 and is now being restored.

Image result for glasgow school of art building newbury macintosh
Glasgow school of Art -via

Image result for glasgow school of art building newbury macintosh
Glasgow School of Art Library via

Although Francis Newbery was born in Devon he grew up in Bridport. He studied at Bridport School of Art and became an art master there, before taking up posts in London, and then Glasgow.  He retired to Dorset and gave these paintings to the town as thanks for his early education and development. The pictures are view to free to view see here for details..

Do you have any famous artists that have captured local scenes? If you would like to join Barbara in writing a post about your favourite artists or just want to see another coastal location - this time in Jersey in the Channel Islands (between England and France) visit her at Coastal Ripples.

I'm so glad you all enjoyed the stormy waters and Rachel Carson book in my last post. It was lovely to receive so many lovely comments.
 Until next time.
Sarah x


  1. What wonderful paintings, so full of life and the story of the local area. I like the last one best as well, such a friendly domestic scene, although they are undoubtedly working hard. The Glasgow School of Art is a very beautiful building, that library is wonderful. Such a shame about the fire, I remember back when it happened, seeing it on the news. What a great idea for a link-up, I've really enjoyed your post. CJ xx

  2. Being an artist myself I can appreciate every detail of this post. I love learning about art and artists, even though I was so bored in my Art History class at University. Thank you for sharing about the arts surrounding your home. xx

  3. It is a beautiful picture and wonderful to read about it! xx

  4. What a wonderful post Sarah. Many thanks for joining in with Paint Monthly. Francis Newbery is definitely a new artist to me. I love the detail in his work and the fact he recorded life in the past. I do hope others will join us. Just think of all the amazing posts we could read about local art around the world :) I agree it is fun researching the information for these posts! Barbara xx

  5. I think each piece is beautiful in its own way. I have a love for older art and its intricate, delicate details weaved in and out of every section. The emotion and beauty in these seem few and far between these days. To me, these pieces are true art.

  6. Hi Sarah,
    What a great share! In the first painting what caught my eye was her expression, then color!
    My favorite painting is of the cottage with the woman braiding net. I can actually see myself in this painting, offering my help with the braiding.
    I love it.

  7. Hi Sarah,

    Yes wonderful paintings indeed and love how it tells the story of people busy and going about their work. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post and always great to learn more about Artists and the history around where you live.
    Happy weekend

  8. Wonderful artwork, they just all tell such a story don't they. I am finding it hard to choose my favourite out of picture 2 or picture 3. xx

  9. A really enjoyable post. It is so interesting and the pictures lovely.

  10. I love a picture with a story. The trouble is, it needs someone like you to explain it! I suppose local people / people of that era would be more likely to understand without explanation. Most pictures are full of symbolism that goes unnoticed by later generations.

  11. Such an interesting post, Sarah, I enjoyed it and learned a bit about an artist not known to me. I love looking at scenes of everyday life, there is such beauty in the little details of living.

  12. Beautiful pictures. I love the first one - stunning!

  13. Although I was aware of Fra Newberry and his connections with Glasgow Scool of Art, I was unaware of his work.
    I do like his style which I think of as being typical of the Arts & Crafts/Art Nouveau period, and the way, rather like Wm. Morris, that he is extolling the creativity and work of ordinary people. I shall now look into him a bit more, so thanks very much for the introduction Sarah.

    1. I'm glad I have introduced to Francis' s work. It is usually you who introduces me to so many interesting topics. There does seem to be many examples of the Arts and Craft movement in this area. I must combine them into a post sometime. Sarah x

  14. Good morning Sarah! This is a lovely post, so different from many, and it's a great way to start to think about what art I truly love. I have to say that my favorites are the Dutch masters. Vermeer is my favorite due to his play with light. Light fascinates me, and when an artist is able to simulate the sunshine, a reflection or the sparkle of jewels, that is SUCH a skill that I don't understand. His work leaves me in awe. Have a sensational day!

  15. Lovely post, my favourite would have to be the bottom one x

  16. We have a local artist who only paints scenes from our county. I told him about a particularly lovely "scene" in our part of the county and he was really interested in it. I'm eager to see if he does a painting of it!

  17. This was fascinating, Sarah. I had never heard of this artist before. I agree that the bottom picture has the most appeal, but as a spinner I find the top one fascinating. I use a spinning wheel - I can't imagine spinning the way that lady is!

  18. Well that was all very fascinating!
    As a recent convert to how wonderful Bridport is, I found it interesting to see such scenes from its history - although I wonder how they managed not to get their nets knotted in such a small room!
    The pictures have a certain "Pre-Raphaelite" quality to them, as if they are stories from myths, not reality. But I like them all.
    Have a good 2016 :)

  19. I like the middle one with the weavers. I'm not sure what famous paintings we have in the local area....must look it up Sarah.

  20. A wonderful idea and wonderful paintings Sarah.
    The first painting reminds me of Frig, in Norse mythology, the Goddess the day Friday was named after.
    My favourite is the second painting, exchange the sail cloth for wool, and it could be a wool shed in Yorkshire, where I hail from,.
    The last picture.
    Love Henry Moore, the sculptor, he's not exactly painted scenes, but he's from Yorkshire, much closer to home (Leeds) is Bradford, which gave us David Hockney, who has created wonderful scenes of the area.

  21. I really like all three paintings but the middle and bottom are my favourites. I think it's because of the colours and subject matter. I love arts and crafts architecture and art, Rennie Mackintosh and William Morris, etc. The Glasgow School of Art is a fabulous building, it's great that it's being restored after that awful fire. Thanks for such an interesting post. Sam x

  22. The paintings are lovely and like you, the last painting is my favorite.

    We have some beautiful murals at our post office that were done by a local artist who captured life in Ventura. You have inspired me to try to get some pics of the murals.

  23. Fascinating history! Indeed beautiful work! Marvelous post and thank you for sharing!

  24. I have revisited this particular blog a few times to look at the paintings and what has just struck me is that The Spirit of Bridport would not look out of place were it part of a Tarot Deck because there are stories within the image.

  25. Oh, I love these paintings--all of them. Paintings such as these are the photography of the time, don't you think? How fortunate for us that artists recorded daily life in such vivid detail.

  26. I also like the Fra Newbery paintings and they are a real surprise if you visit Bridport and come across them in the rather dismal town hall. There is another that I am keen on which shows some country folk of the time and the image seems to conjur up something of the spirit of Thomas Hardy

  27. As a graduate of GSA I did not know of this connection with Fra Newberry! Thank you Sarah.

  28. I do like the last painting on your post very much – the colors and subjects are attractive to me. I also looked at your last post – you take such great photos of the sea. I also love to look at paintings and have a folder with many. I try to include some in my posts when I can. I was in bed during the end of year holidays so did not visit blogs – now I’d like to wish you a very happy 2016 with many beautiful sights of the sea and much happiness.

  29. I like your choice of pictures - and that they tell a story of times gone by - I like the little details.

  30. Really happy that i found you. Nice greetings from austria your new follower

  31. Thank you for the tutorial Sarah! Francis Newbery is new to me. He has a very distinctive style. Beautiful details.

    Have a lovely evening!

    Madelief x

  32. This woman with a crown on her head feels like woman under presure of responsibility. She wants just spinning without decisions, to be above waves like a breeze outside the windows

  33. Very interesting post Sarah, I like the pictures / paintings you've highlighted.

    All the best Jan

  34. Dear Sarah,

    What a wonderful post and the paintings are so beautiful. I had never heard of Francis Newberry before so it was an interesting new acquaintance to make. I often enjoy the work of artists who portrait the life and area where they lived. A history lesson in it's own just to watch a painting over and over.
    Thank you so very much sweet Sarah for this beautiful post.♥

    Have a lovely weekend.


  35. Thanks for another wonderful post, Sarah. I love all three paintings and learning about the artist and the area where you live. Now I will check out the link to Coastal Ripples :) xx


Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing about blogging so please join in and brighten my day!