An artist of the 1920s, working in the aftermath of the Great War

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Claughton Pellew “Self-portrait 1912”, chalk on paper
Despite his shyness, the Cornish artist Claughton Pellew played an important role in the 1920s when his
visions of English pastoral peace and harmony, translated into water-colour and wood engraving, led the
way out of the trauma inflicted by the First World War. During the last two years of that war he was
imprisoned for refusing to cooperate in any way with its prosecution. His treatment as conscientious
objector is described by the Imperial War Museum at


“A Shy Cornishman” – Article 2-5


“The Conscientious Claughton Pellew” – Article 8

GALLERY (continued) 9-28

DRAMATIS PERSONAE (Photographs & Text) 29-35

Family 29
‘Slade’ Contemporaries 30

Primary Influences 31-32

Pellew in Prison 1916-18 32
Bavaria & Bohemia 1923-49 33-35
Pellews at ‘the Pightle’ 35

Galleries which hold collections of his work


“Remnant” of a Pellew painting c. 1920
A painting by Kechie Tennent, Pellew’s wife

A book written by James Methuen-Campbell and containing many of
Pellew’s paintings and a selection of his prints is being published by Fleece
A Shy Cornishman
The artist Claughton Pellew 1890-1966

Cornwall has been the inspiration for generations of artists and writers. Here is an exception, a Cornishman,
the last of his family to be born in Cornwall, who by circumstance became exposed to quite different artistic
influences and, instead of returning to his native land, chose to live in isolation on the windy north Norfolk
coast. From there his visions of the countryside around him began to flow like a dream.

“He seemed fated to work for and help others and denied himself the full exercise of his talents. Poor dear
man he was the most unselfish of beings”, wrote the artist John Nash of his lifelong friend Claughton Pellew.
Claughton was a landscape artist who sought obscurity but found himself playing an important role when his
perceptions of English pastoral peace and harmony, translated into water-colour and wood engraving, led the
way out of the trauma inflicted on the country by the First World War. Even today, eighty years after the
main body of his work was completed, his burning affection for the rural scenes of the past shines through.

“Rick tops” 1914, watercolour with pen and ink, gouache & chalk. Claughton saw hayricks
“as more than an incidental feature of the landscape; their height dominates the surroundings
and makes them a fitting emblem of the climactic moment of harvest” (Timothy Wilcox).

The brothers Paul and John Nash, who became two of the most influential English landscape painters of the
last century, were each of them fired up by the young Claughton’s romantic approach, and by the intensity
of his love for the countryside and its features. Paul trained with Claughton at the Slade in London, where
their contemporaries included such future luminaries of the art world as Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer and
Christopher Nevinson (pictures and details of these and other Slade artists are at page 30).

In 1912 Paul spent a walking holiday with Claughton staying at the latter’s lodgings in Norfolk, and in his
autobiography wrote of him: “He was the first creature of a truly poetic cast of mind that I had met. We had
much in sympathy, although I had more to learn than I could possibly give. His own work was remarkable
for a searching intensity both in thought and technique. It was full of suggestion to my unformed mind”....“I
was shaken within; a new vibration had been set up”. Paul’s younger brother, John Nash, acknowledged
that he too owed Claughton “a great debt for his encouragement and advice at an impressionable age and
his more mature views opened out a new world for me while his accomplished technique in his water-
colours and engravings set me a standard to be achieved” (see John & Christine Nash at page 31).

How was it then that an artist, clearly one of distinction and influence, who received such accolades from his
peers, has remained comparatively unknown? The answer seems to be that he was, in both a spiritual and
artistic sense, a casualty of the First World War which caused him to withdraw into a form of self-imposed
obscurity. Not until Anne Stevens at the Ashmolean in Oxford mounted an exhibition of his wood
engravings in 1987, followed three years later by full exhibitions of his work held in London, Norfolk,
Sussex and Devon, have Claughton’s remarkable talents come to be more widely admired.

Born at Redruth in 1890, the great grandson of Samuel Harvey and Philippa Pellew of Chacewater,
Claughton was the last of this old Cornish family to be born in the Duchy. He and his parents, the
peripatetic mining engineer William Pellew-Harvey and the amusing and artistic Elizabeth Hichens, became
part of the great Cornish exodus. It was thus that Claughton spent his early years in the mountains of British
Columbia. The isolation and beauty of that environment made a great impression on him and he developed
there a fiercely independent attitude to life, which in later years lay uneasily alongside the gentle nature of
this essentially shy and sensitive man. (See “Dramatis Personae” - family photos, page 29 et seq.)
Anne Tennent

“Cliffs near the Lizard at sunset” c.1920, watercolour.
Claughton, who was born in Cornwall, made occasional visits there from his home in north Norfolk

The family returned home from Canada in 1901, not to Cornwall but to London where Claughton’s father
set up a thriving mining consultancy. Much to William Pellew-Harvey’s disappointment, the young
Claughton was far too unworldly to be tempted into the family business; he dropped the Harvey from his
surname and started to study art. Four years at the Slade was followed by the transcendent experience of
seeing the art of the Florentine Quattrocento and visits to Assisi where the town’s historical and religious
associations overwhelmed him. On his return he wholeheartedly embraced religious symbolism in his work
and converted to Catholicism. The year was 1914. (see the influence of Edwin Ingram Watkin and Father
Harold Shelley Squirrel - page 31 and of Hermon Ould - page 32)
When war came Claughton, a pacifist like many of his artist contemporaries, became a conscientious
objector and refused to be drafted. For this he suffered grievously in labour camps and prisons in the south
of England, Scotland, Yorkshire and finally in Dartmoor (see photos Pellew in Prison, page 32). These
were two miserable, lonely and traumatic years. On release his alienation from society, deepened by
knowing that better-connected ‘Bloomsbury Group’ pacifists like Mark Gertler and Duncan Grant had
avoided imprisonment, was almost complete. John Nash described it as “a sense of permanent isolation
from which Claughton never recovered”.
Hove Museum & Art Gallery

“The train” 1920, also called “The embankment at night”, watercolour with ink, gouache and pastel on paper. Among his
water-colours this is one of a few to feature an ‘infernal machine’. Here he depicts the night train, which he could see
from his home in Norfolk, not as an alien element but in peaceful harmony with the shepherd and his flock; all is calm
despite the evidence of wind in the “tortuous form” of the trees.

In 1919 he married another artist, Emma (Kechie) Tennent. They settled in a remote corner of north Norfolk
where, apart from family visits to his native Cornwall and holidays in the Bavarian Alps where he could
recreate his British Columbian boyhood, they remained for the rest of their lives (See Kechie’s paintings of
Norfolk and Bavaria at ). They lived the simple life using bicycles
for transport and, until 1955, oil lamps for light and with their privacy protected by a pair of geese. Norfolk
may seem an odd choice for an expatriate Cornish artist but it was in part the trees that attracted him. “The
trees slanting one way, their branches welded together in tortuous forms by the relentless winds” became a
characteristic of his landscapes.

It was in the 1920s that Claughton began the most productive part of his working life. It was a time when
the world of nature and especially the English countryside and its landscapes became the panacea for the ills
that war had inflicted. This movement represented a step back, reverence for the past and its traditions and
an escape from war and the modern industrial machine. Hand-craftsmanship was consistent with this theme,
and from 1923 Claughton was primarily working in wood. Described as “masterpieces of technique”, his
prints were considered in the trade as “extremely well worth study for they are wholly conceived in terms of
the medium”. The burning affection that Claughton expressed in his English rural landscapes, the romantic
intensity of his art, and his skill at wood engraving, all equipped him to be at the centre of this movement.

Anne Tennent

“Mother and child 1920”, watercolour. “In Claughton’s later work, figures normally play only a subsidiary role. In this
early painting, he creates a secular parallel with the Madonna and child image. The glowing non-naturalistic colours
transform an individual into a symbolic representation of ‘motherhood’ in general” (Timothy Wilcox). Claughton and his
wife Kechie, who married the year before he painted this, did not have children. They later adopted Kechie’s niece, Anne
Tennent, following the death of her mother. They lived initially at Overstrand, moving to Southrepps in 1927.
(See photos “Pellews at The Pightle” at page 34, and full family background in A Cornish Inheritance)

By the depression of the 1930s Claughton’s productive years were over. Interest in country themes had
waned as had the demand for prints, but he was loathed to leave his rural idyll to gain the stimulation to
strike out in a new direction. Then war returned again and poor Pellew, who was known to have German
friends and to speak the language, was arrested as a suspected spy and held until his blameless British status
could be established. He would have sunk into obscurity had it not been for a small group of supporters that
were aware of the remarkable talent and moving tale of this remote figure. They have swollen steadily over
the years encouraged by several exhibitions of his work and a television film about both his art and his
pacifism (BBC2, April 2001). A book of his work is in preparation by Fleece Press for publication.

Claughton’s is in a way a sad story of promise unfulfilled, and a life lived for the most part in self-imposed
obscurity. Yet this kind, unassuming and gifted man has left us some wonderful pictures that epitomise that
period between the wars when his images of rural peace helped eclipse the memories of bloody conflict. He
found happiness in his work and in the Norfolk countryside he loved so much, and now he and his wife lie
peacefully together in the little churchyard at Gimingham. His search for solace in a savage world led to
some saintly visions of a land now forgotten but well worth remembering.

Catherine Davenport

“Norfolk landscape” 1921. Watercolour of the village of Upper Sheringham, from ‘Pretty Corner’ south-east of the village

“Harvest scene” 1923. One of Claughton’s earliest wood engravings
which he dedicated to his lifelong friend John Nash.

Simon Lawrence

“A Norfolk lane” 1924. Watercolour, pen and ink

“The flight” c.1924. One of several wood engravings on the biblical theme of the flight of Joseph, Mary and the Christ-
child from Bethlehem into Egypt. However, Claughton places the holy family not in a desert background but in what looks
like an Alpine scene, either in mountains or, as in this case, a dense forest.
The conscientious Claughton Pellew
by Gordon Clarke

It takes imagination nowadays to recall just how completely forgotten many British printmakers of the early
20th century really were. The effects of the collapse of the over-heated printmarket in the late 1920s and the
second war were bad enough for them. But worse were the doctrinaire attitudes that wafted around the twin
gods of abstraction and experimentation from the 1950s onwards. Of all those artists, no one lapsed more
thoroughly than the hapless Claughton Pellew (1890-1966).

I first came across him in ‘The Studio’ about 1983. I remember being astonished and captivated by The
Squirrel (page20), astonished not just because I had never heard of him but because no one knew anything
about him. Even Albert Garret, with his infuriating but invaluable History of Wood Engraving, didn't
mention him once. I could hardly have known, as I conscientiously made note of this intensely individual
artist, that down in Oxfordshire Anne Stevens was assiduously building a collection of his wood-engravings.
As a volunteer in the print room at the Ashmolean Museum, it became part of her role to organise yearly
exhibitions and Pellew finally began to receive his due in 1987. For me it was perhaps one of the most
telling events of the revivalist flood that was so much a feature of that decade.

Born at Redruth in Cornwall, he spent the earlier part of his childhood in Canada (his father was a mining
engineer). Nevertheless, reviewing a second exhibition in Brighton in 1990, John Russell Taylor had this to
say: “Pellew touches on a number of interesting and unexpected aspects of English art between the wars”.
Generally, the Cornish don't strike me as particularly English, especially when they have spent their
childhood in Canada. But there you are, this artist of almost unique sensibility and sensitivity did train under
Henry Tonks and Wilson Steer at the Slade and the thoroughness of that training is evident in the prints here.
I think one faculty they did value was memory. It wasn't just that they considered draughtsmanship to be
important but they taught students both to look and to remember what they had seen.

What Claughton Pellew saw were subjects underpinned by lyricism and faith. Like a number of British
artists before the first war, he had become a Roman Catholic and this had led him to register as a
conscientious objector after general conscription in 1916 and this in turn led him to prison, the final one
almost unbelievably being the notorious Dartmoor. John Nash believed that Pellew never recovered from his
experiences and left him with a permanent sense of isolation. Be that as it may, Pellew and his wife, the
artist Emma Tennent, went to live on the north-east coast of Norfolk and never left there. As for me, I think
his conscientiousness was played out beautifully in his wood-engravings. He also painted and only began
engraving in 1923 but as you see here, he approached almost every print with a subtle originality that makes
many of his contemporaries look basically complacent. Unlike Bernard Rice, whose experiments didn't
always come off, Pellew took on a range of subjects and designs that belie the visionary Romantic manner.

Look at how different his prints are, how varied the cutting is, see how well he handles a tremendous range
of blacks, white and greys and take it from me that the impression of his cutting when you see it in front of
you, is considerable. In exactly the same way that it is easy to compare engravings like these to the ink and
sepia drawings Samuel Palmer made in the 1820s, it is equally true that, like Palmer's drawings, these prints
by Pellew are highly skilled. The images are so appealing that we tend to forget just how well-made they
are. He approached everything he did with seriousness. And, as so often with truly serious people, he was
shy and self-effacing. He might have designed the cover for the 1930 Christmas number of the Radio Times
(it was “The carol singers” – page 15) but these beautifully considered images are about as far from our
television times as you can get.
“From my window” 1925. Wood engraving from Claughton’s house, the Pightle at Overstrand,
looking inland towards the coastal railway which figures in “The train” 1920 (page 4).

“Bavarian chimney sweep” 1925. Wood engraving.

Sarah Roeloefs

“Countryside” c.1925. Watercolour of Lodge Farm near Southrepps. “Pellew often enjoys imagining looking down on the
landscape from above, savouring more of its riches than can be seen from ground level” (Timothy Wilcox).

“The cat” 1924. Wood engraving.
“The Return” 1925, a wood engraving, 26 x26 cms, is one of Claughton’s best known village designs based on the little
Cornish fishing port of Mousehole. The houses are grouped to show the closeness of the community, and the chimney
smoke rising vertically emphasises the peacefulness of the scene. The whole feeling is of order and tradition with people, in
this case fishermen barely discernible on the steps, working with nature.

“The forest” 1925, wood engraving, 8 x 7.5 cms, perhaps expressing the artist’s feeling of isolation
“Kites” 1925. Wood engraving, said to be based on the cliffs at Bacton

“The cow” 1925. Wood engraving in a Dutch landscape
Claire Soboen

“Snow scene at night” 1925, watercolour, pen & ink. The scene is a lane between Gimingham and Mundesley.

“The ricks” 1927, wood engraving. 12.5 x 13.5 cms, Claughton saw hayricks “as more than an incidental feature of the
landscape; their height dominates the surroundings and makes them a fitting emblem of the climactic moment of harvest”.
Anne Tennent

“View from the studio” 1930, oil on canvas. This is one of a few oil paintings. This is the studio in his last home ‘The
Pightle’ near Southrepps to which he moved in 1927 (see photos PELLEWS AT THE ‘PIGHTLE’ at page 34).

“The bathers” 1925, wood engraving
“The carol singers” 1930, wood engraving. Sited in the village of Trunch, 1½ miles from his home
near Southrepps. Commissioned by the BBC for the Christmas edition of the Radio Times

“Landscape” 1930, wood engraving.

“The musical beggar” 1928, wood engraving in the village of Trunch.

“The smithy” 1930, wood engraving of a Bavarian scene.

“The entombment” 1930. Wood engraving. “One of Claughton’s most involved night scenes. The distant
scenery, with walls ascending the hillside capped by towers, seems to derive from his studies of Tuscany
made many years before, and recalls his early encounters with religious painting” [Timothy Wilcox].

“Marsh marigolds” 1930. Wood engraving inspired by flowers that grew in a marshy wood at Clapham Dams a mile from
Claughton’s home near Southrepps. “One of the most telling examples of his disguised symbolism. Here two grass stalks
seem to form a cross standing above the vegetation” [Timothy Wilcox]

“Bavarian church in winter” 1930. Wood engraving

“The lake” 1931. Wood engraving, 18 x 15 cms, based on the spectacular Königssee, a deep glacial lake, 15 miles south of
Salzburg, which city Pellew visited. He did a similar engraving “The boat”, and painted a water colour of the lake by night

“Sheringham mill” c.1930? Pen and ink, crayon and wash (here without colour). This old windmill,
a favourite subject but already in a dilapidated state, was destroyed by fire in the early 1930s.
“Assisi” 1932. This wood engraving relates back to his religious and artistic experiences
of Italy in 1914 (page 3). He had painted a water colour with black chalk of a similar scene in 1929.

“The squirrel” 1931, wood engraving, 21 x 24 cms.
“Gloucestershire Lane” 1933. Wood engraving. 25 x 20 cms. Typical of the steep wooded hillsides
around Dursley where in 1928-29 Claughton visited his aunt and uncle, Ettie and Frank Yeo.

WB Pellew-Harvey

“The reed cutters” 1940s. These reeds, a hardy plant grown on the exposed wetland marshes of North Norfolk are still
used for thatching roofs which last up to 75 years. It is seasonal work which used to be an important part of the longshore
economy providing income during the harshest times when fishing and agriculture were in abeyance.

JHW Fine Arts

“Landscape with ploughman” 1926 (ink & watercolour). [A very similar painting, titled “Bavarian landscape”
1926, smaller and square in shape but otherwise differing in only minor detail, is in a private collection]

JHW Fine Art

“Farm gate and haystack” c.1920 (pen & ink)
“Chinese Lanterns” (Government Art Collection):
currently in the British Embassy, Islamabad, Pakistan

“Evening” 1930. Wood engraving

“Mrs Sydney Vere Pearson” 1924, coloured chalks on paper, 21.6 x 22.2 cms. She was the wife of the Superintendant
of the famous TB Sanatorium at Mundesley, Dr Pearson (1875-1950). Pellew’s home at the Pightle was only two miles
away and he visited a number of his friends who became patients there.

“The plough” 1928, wood engraving
“The end” 1928, wood engraving

Simon Lawrence

“The White Hart” c.1920? Watercolour of unknown title and date

“Swans” 1925, wood engraving, 8x 10.5 cms. The nearest swans to his home
at Overstrand were at the mill stream, Gimingham

Photograph of a watercolour, similar in design to Pellew’s wood engraving of “The knight” 1924.

Photograph of watercolour of ‘Assisi country’ complete with knight, c.1924

JHW Fine Art

“The adoration” 1931, wood engraving
“Winter landscape in snow” 1950, oil on canvas, 38 x 44 cms.

“Italian hill town” c.1930, ink and wash, 33.5 x 44 cms.

Pellew’s parents: William, a mining engineer, and the artistic Elizabeth, née Hichens. Right: their elder son, Claughton in
British Columbia, Canada, aged 8 in 1898. After ten years at Golden in the Canadian Rockies and in Vancouver, the
family returned to London (Blackheath) in 1901 where William set up a highly successful international mining
consultancy for which over the next forty years he travelled widely, including into eastern Europe, Russia during the
revolution, Siberia and to South-East Asia as far as Victoria and New South Wales in Australia. A source of great
disappointment to him was that Claughton, intent on becoming an artist, had rejected the commercial world and further
demonstrated his independence by dropping ‘Harvey’ from his surname. Full family background in A Cornish Inheritance

Left & Centre: two photos of Claughton Pellew in about 1911 when he was studying at the Slade with such future
luminaries of the art world as Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer, Ben Nicholson and others shown on the next page. After the
Slade, Pellew visited Italy and particularly Assisi (1913), coming away deeply impressed by the art of the Florentine
Quattrocento and by religious symbolism. On his return he converted to Catholicism (see Edward Watkin page 31). Right:
Emma-Marie (‘Kechie’) Tennent in about 1915, another Slade graduate 1912-14. Pellew married her in 1919 after his
release from Dartmoor prison for his pacifist stand - refusing to cooperate in any way with the prosecution of the war and
his conscription in 1916. This was unlike many of his artist contemporaries who became non-combatants in the war.

Paul Nash. Close friend. War artist. Edward Wadsworth. RNVR in WW1 Sir Stanley Spencer. RAMC and Ben Nicholson. Exempt from
Elder brother of John Nash. Designed ship camouflage paint. Infantry in WW1. Famous war artist. military service due to asthma

Hulton Getty c.1920

Mark Gertler. Conscientious objector Dora Carrington. Influential. Duncan Grant. Conscientious objector CRW Nevinson. Distinguished war
but not imprisoned. Bloomsbury Group. Member of the Bloomsbury Group. but not imprisoned. Bloomsbury Group. artist. Friends’ Ambulance Unit etc.
Unrequited love for Dora Lytton Strachey’s partner. Affairs with Lytton Strachey & JM Keynes. Dora’s lover

L-R: Dora Carrington, CRW Nevinson , Mark Gertler at the Slade. Both men were at various times in love with Carrington.
Her bohemian bisexual presence at the Slade and later among the Bloomsbury Group was little short of cataclysmic (see ). Mark, the son of Jewish immigrants, caught TB in the 1930s and was
a patient in the Mundesley Sanatorium in Norfolk where Pellew visited him. Mark died by his own hand in 1939.

The militant pacifist friends he found in north Norfolk
Edward Ingram Watkin 1888-1981 Father Harold Shelley Squirrel 1872-1960
Edward (known as ‘Edda’) lived at Sheringham in north Norfolk, a neighbour and close friend of Pellew on whom he was
a strong influence. Edda was an Oxford educated philosopher, prolific writer, linguist and translator (proficient in French,
Italian, Spanish and German). He was born a Protestant but moved to become a Catholic in 1908 (Pellew followed him
into that church in 1914 after his visit to Italy). Edda was a campaigning pacifist who publicly opposed conscription in
1916. He, alongside Father Harold Squirrel, their Catholic priest, supported if not led Pellew into the extreme anti-war
position that he adopted. Edda was co-founder in 1936 of the Catholic pacifist movement “Pax” and in 1939, when war
came again, he was ready with his pamphlet “The Crime of Conscription”. Catholic Father Squirrel, with whom Pellew
stayed for six months, was by chance also a crusading pacifist, active member of “the Guild of the Pope’s Peace” during
WW1 and graduate of Leipzig and Munich universities. Pellew’s life-long love of German art and literature and his visits
to Bavaria in the 1920s originated from their close friendship.
R Blythe c.1918 R Blythe 1919

Pellew met John Nash in 1912 through his elder brother Paul at the Slade. John went on a walking holiday with Pellew in
Norfolk that year and they became life-long friends. From November 1916 John fought in World War 1 in the Artists’
Rifles and in 1918 became an official war artist. In the same year he married Christine Kühlenthal, the daughter of a
German merchant chemist married to a Scot. Emma-Marie ‘Kechie’ Tennent (1888-1968) who Pellew married the
following year was a fellow student of Christine’s at the Slade. The intimate story of these young artists, wonderfully
gifted, growing up and then suddenly caught up and divided by the miseries of the First World War, and eventually
finding their own paths, is vividly told in Ronald Blythe’s book “First Friends” .
When in 1927 Pellew and Kechie moved into a new house in the remote countryside near Southrepps, John the
horticulturalist, was also there to help with the design of their garden and lake. When war returned in 1939 John was
commissioned into the Royal Marines as an Admiralty war artist. When Pellew died in 1966, John wrote: “In my early
career I derived so much help and inspiration from Claughton that I can never forget it and am always grateful. I know he
greatly influenced my brother when they first met at the Slade. Alas, that he seemed fated to work for and help others and
denied himself the full exercise of his own talents. Poor dear man, he was the most unselfish of beings.”

HERMON OULD 1886-1951.
Hermon Ould, a pacifist and close friend of Pellew, pictured (left) in about 1918, and (centre) in Norfolk in the 1920s. He
was a dramatist, poet, critic and conscientious objector to the 1916 conscription, who was with Pellew in Dartmoor (the
photo below seems to confirm this: prison records were burnt in a riot in 1932!). Ould later became Secretary General of
the International PEN Club. Pellew illustrated several of Ould’s books (Black Virgin 1922 [ABOVE RIGHT]; Episode
1923; The Miracle of Peace, A Carol 1925). However, in 1940 when WW2 was at its height with bombs falling near Ould’s
home, Pellew was shocked to find him with arguments exposing the weakness and “naivety” of the extreme positions on
peace which both of them had espoused in the previous war.


For his strong pacifist stance, Pellew suffered grievously in labour camps and prisons in the south of
England, Scotland, Yorkshire and finally in Dartmoor. These were two miserable, lonely and traumatic
years for this very shy and sensitive man. On release his alienation from society, deepened by knowing that
better-connected Bloomsbury Group pacifists like Mark Gertler and Duncan Grant had avoided
imprisonment, was almost complete. John Nash described it as “a sense of permanent isolation from which
Claughton never recovered”.

A group of conscientious objectors (in Dartmoor?) during the Great War c.1918, three of them
joking about being force-fed. Pellew is holding the man’s head - and behind him is Hermon Ould?

In the words of the late Anne Stevens who rediscovered Claughton Pellew in 1987, “the Pellews derived
much pleasure and inspiration from several prolonged visits to Bavaria during the 1920s and early 30s,
staying at Tutzing on the Starnberg lake”. Their hosts were Baron Theodore Leonhardi and his wife Erika
von Bethusy-Huc. The baron, who fought in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the war, came from an old
Bohemian family who in 1908 had lost their estate ‘Straz nad Nezarkou’ in that country (now in the Czech
Republic) while his wife had family active in German politics. In all, the Pellews were in Bavaria for about a
year and a half. The mountain landscape, lakes and dark forests were spurs to the creation of many drawings
and watercolours by both of them. Distinctive Bavarian features can clearly be seen in their works during
this period, so different from the flat land, big skies and wind-twisted trees of Norfolk.
Kechie’s pictures are at

A 1930 view of the Starnberg lake in Bavaria some 20 miles south of Munich. It is a deep
long freshwater lake which extends 13 miles further south with this Alpine backdrop.

It was during these Bavarian visits that Pellew pursued the interest in German art and literature to which
Father Squirrel had introduced him. Munich was just 20 miles away from where they were living. He learnt
both to read and write German and listened to stirring tales of local history – the body of the famous King
Ludwig II had been found in 1886 on the other side of their lake. But it was also a time of political unrest in
Munich where in 1920 the German Nazi Party was born. Then again in Munich in November 1923, just after
the Pellews had returned to Norfolk following their first visit to the Leonardis, the Nazi party attempted their
first coup d’état, during which Hitler was wounded and then imprisoned. It was the start, leading to the
Nazi’s eventual seizure of power in 1933. The baron had died in 1927 and it was his widow, Erika, who kept
Pellew aware of political developments. As war approached, while she had a daughter in Berlin, her nephew,
Helmuth von Moltke, who Pellew had first met in 1922, was there leading a religiously pacifist group
opposing the Nazi party and planning for the government that would replace it. Pellew was of course very
much in sympathy with Moltke’s political stance. Sadly Moltke did not survive the war (see portrait and
explanation on next page). Pellew, who last visited Erika in 1936, was himself questioned by police in
Norfolk in WW2 as a suspected spy because he was receiving letters in German! He remained in touch with
Erika until her death in 1949.

Count Helmuth von Moltke, of Kreisau, Silesia in south-west Poland
This nephew of Erika von Bethusy-Huc was an international lawyer educated at Breslau and Oxford
universities. He was an influential descendant of European 19th century aristocracy; his mother was a South
African of English descent. In Berlin he led a diverse group of political idealists known as the Kreisau Circle
in opposition to the Nazi regime and planning for the government that would replace it. He himself, a devout
Christian pacifist, advocated only non-violent means. Sadly the unsuccessful plot to assassinate Hitler of
July 1944 provided the excuse to hang many of the Nazi’s innocent opponents. Helmuth was executed in Jan
1945 on “new” charges. On his centenary in Berlin in 2007, Chancellor Angela Merkel described him as a
symbol of “European courage”.

‘Haus Froh’ at Tutzing on the Starnberg lake, 20 miles south of Munich. The Pellews stayed here as paying guests for six
or seven months at a time during the 1920s and early 30s. Their hosts were Baron Theodore Leonhardi and his wife Erika.
Königssee at Berchtesgaden, Bavaria (near Salzburg) is a deep fjord-like lake five miles long and flanked by mountains
rising to almost 9000 feet. Nearby were the Alpine headquarters and redoubt of the Nazi party where in 1927 Hitler wrote
the second half of his book “Mein Kampf” after his release from his Munich prison. It was Pellew’s visit to this lake in
1929-30 which inspired his pictures of “The entombment” and “The lake” (pages 17 & 19 respectively). His last visit to
Germany was in 1936, three years before war was declared.


“The Pightle” near Southrepps in north ‘Kechie’ Pellew née Tennent c.1930 was a Claughton Pellew c.1945. During
Norfolk 2009: the Pellew home from Slade trained artist in her own right, who WW2 he was briefly questioned
1927 until Kechie’s death in 1968 exhibited her Bavarian watercolours at the as a spy for receiving letters in
Goupil Gallery in 1927 to great acclaim. German from his old friends!
See them at


For copyright information or to comment, use artist’s contact at:


Causey, Dr. Andrew. One time Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Manchester, who
wrote the introduction to the catalogue for the 1990 series of Claughton Pellew exhibitions.

Clarke, Gordon. His “Modern Printmakers” blog on “The conscientious Claughton Pellew” is on page 8

Nash, John. Introduction to the Pellew Memorial exhibition at Norwich 1967.

Nash, Paul. “Outline, An Autobiography” (Faber & Faber 1949)

Stevens, Anne. Introduction to the catalogue of the Claughton Pellew exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum,
Oxford (Sept-Nov 1987).

Tennent, Anne (the artist’s niece by marriage, and copyright holder), and members of the Pellew-Harvey

Wilcox, Timothy. One time curator of the Hove Museum & Art Gallery, joint curator of the Claughton
Pellew Exhibitions which took place at Hove, London, King’s Lynn and Exeter (May-Nov 1990), and
curator of the Claughton Pellew Exhibition at King’s Lynn (2001).

Note: Versions of the article “A shy Cornishman” (pages 2-5 above) have appeared in: “The Countryman”
– Spring 1996; “A Cornish Inheritance” p.62 – 1997; “Cornwall Today” – March 2001; "Soldiers, Saints
and Scallwags" – 2009; An illustrated e-book version of "A Cornish Inheritance" - 2015

The following are among those museums and galleries which hold collections of
Claughton Pellew’s work:
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford;
British Museum, London;
Victoria & Albert Museum, London;
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge;
City Art Gallery, Manchester;
Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Norwich;
Hove Museum & Art Gallery, Brighton;
City Art Gallery, Leeds;
City Art Gallery, Aberdeen;
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow;
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester;
Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro;
Government Art Collection (Islamabad), London
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand
A book containing many of Pellew’s paintings and a selection of his
prints is being published by Fleece Press.
His wife, Kechie’s paintings are on view at


“The marl spreader”. c.1920. This watercolour was discovered recently on the back of
another of Pellew’s paintings which is now at the Castle Museum & Gallery, Norwich

“Moonlight (Bavarian forest in snow)”. c.1927. Watercolour & black chalk on paper.
46 x 61 cms. An example of the work of Pellew’s wife, Kechie Tennent, a Slade artist
in her own right. Her paintings can be viewed at

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