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Drawing the net at Haweswater:

The Art of Jacob Thompson and its Wider Links

Though he achieved national acclaim, Jacob Thompson of Penrith (1806-1879) is best remembered locally as the artist responsible for painting the altar-piece in St Andrew's Church in the town, which he completed in 1845. Only a few years earlier he had returned home after a successful career as a portrait and genre painter, first in London and then for a short while at Hitchin in Hertfordshire. Through the patronage of William Earl of Lonsdale, as a young man Jacob had studied at the Royal Academy Schools in London and it was to a cottage on Lord Lonsdale's estate, The Hermitage at Hackthorpe, that he returned to live.

Jacob Thompson devoted the remainder of his life to painting landscapes which were praised 'for their richness, beauty and Pre-Raphaelite truthfulness to nature'. He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and the British Institution in London. Here he came into contact with, and was befriended by, many notable artists of the day such as J M W Turner, David Roberts, Charles West Cope, H W Pickersgill and Thomas Webster, some of whom were occasional guests at The Hermitage. One of Jacob's closest friendships was with Samuel Lucas of Hitchin. They were kinsmen, had been brought up as Quakers, and as an amateur artist Samuel had also exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Penrith Museum is proud to own some of Jacob Thompson's major works, such as The Downfall of Pride, which was painted at Measand Beck Hall on the shores of Haweswater and portrays children from Mardale village. These are on view together with loans from Carlisle Museum, Hitchin Museum and private collections in the area, some of which have never been seen in public before.

The exhibition explores Jacob's life and career and highlights his friendship with Samuel Lucas, a regular visitor to the Hermitage. Together they painted many views around Haweswater and Mardale. After Jacob's death Samuel's affection for the area continued in his children. His son Samuel painted its scenery and his daughters, Ann and Matilda, eventually moved to Stanegarth, an ancient Lakeland homestead above Bampton near Haweswater. Its present occupier, Mrs Mollie Clough, continues to care lovingly for this historic property, treasuring the memory of its artistic links.

This exhibition closed 17 August 2003.

Museum admission and opening hours:

The museum is open all year and admission is free. The museum's opening hours are the same as Penrith Tourist Information Centre.

Museum Curators

Penrith and Eden Museum curators are available to answer questions on current and future exhibitions as well as any other questions concerning the museum and its collections:

  • Contact: The Curators
  • Email: museum@eden.gov.uk
  • Telephone: 01768 865105
  • Address: Penrith and Eden Museum, Robinson School, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7PT
Poster advertsing Jacob Thompson exhibition

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