Surrealists Collection

During the summer of 1937 an extraordinary group of Surrealist artists came for a holiday in Cornwall for the first time. Among them were some of the most original painters, sculptors, writers and photographers of the 20th century. Roland Penrose is generally credited as bringing Surrealism to Britain and was a driving force of the movement, producing some of its most enduring images. He developed close and lasting friendships with Picasso, Miró, Man Ray, and Ernst. He married Lee Miller, who is acknowledged as one of the greatest photographers of all time. Her photographs of the 2nd World War remain some of the most startling images of the atrocities of war ever taken. Roland Penrose rented his brother Beacus’s house at Lambe Creek for a month in the summer of 1937. Roland had just met Lee Miller, who arrived at Lambe Creek a few days after Roland with Man Ray and his girlfriend Ady Fidelin. Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington, Aileen Agar and Joseph Bard, Paul and Nusch Eluard, and Henry Moore made up what amounted to a Surrealist summer camp. The golden age of Surrealism was clearly the 1930s, and it is hard to think of place in England that was more intensively colonised by the top stars of the movement, albeit for a short period. While researching the biography of his mother Lee Miller, Antony Penrose discovered an album of photographs taken by Lee and Roland on that holiday to Cornwall. Over forty images by either Roland Penrose or Lee Miller, together with works by Henry Moore, Man Ray and Eileen Agar are now in the collection of Falmouth Art Gallery. These are particularly popular with our ‘Take a close look’ solander box sessions with students and community groups.