The Cullercoats Colony of artists was active from about 1870 to 1914. It was centred on Cullercoats fishing village, near the mouth of the Tyne. The artists were attracted by the villagers’ traditional way of life and their close-knit community. The Cullercoats artists painted fisherfolk, local workers, and the coast. They often made painting studies on the spot to capture the light of the scene as naturalistically as possible. The group was similar to other artists’ colonies in Britain and Europe at the time.



Robert Jobling (1841-1923)
Darkness Falls from the Wings of Night, 1886
Oil on canvas
Given by Mrs R. Robson, 1931
       
Two Cullercoats fishwives trudge home. One is carrying seaweed, to burn on her cottage fire. The other has a creel (basket) of fish or shellfish. The fishwives were responsible for selling the catch. The Lifeboat Lookout House with its tall tower can be seen at the top of the sloping roadway. The Lifeboat House is on the beach below. The Cullercoats Volunteer Life Brigade started in 1865. Robert Jobling was a leading Newcastle artist in the late-19th century.
 

 
John Charlton (1849-1917)
The Women, 1910
Oil on canvas
Given by John Charlton, 1918
       
This picture shows the start of a dramatic lifeboat rescue on New Year's Day, 1861. The ship ‘Lovely Nellie’ had been wrecked off Whitley Bay. The storm prevented the lifeboat being launched at Cullercoats. It had to be towed by horses and villagers three miles along coast. Charlton probably painted real-life Cullercoats fishwives for his picture. He has shown the lifeboat coming down the steep slope of Briar Dene. Charlton regularly spent time at Cullercoats. He exhibited paintings in London and Newcastle.



Detail of
John Charlton (1849-1917)
The Women, 1910
Oil on canvas
Given by John Charlton, 1918

Charlton probably painted real-life Cullercoats fishwives for his picture. The breaking waves in the scene show the lifeboat is close to being launched. The villagers would have to go into the water to pull the lifeboat into the sea.

  

Isa Thompson (1851-1926)
Fisherfolk, 1893
Oil on canvas
Purchased with grants from the MLA/Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and The Art Fund, 1993
       
Isa (Isabella) Thompson has concentrated on showing these working women in a realistic, unsentimental way. The two fishwives are collecting seaweed and driftwood for fuel. The artist probably painted the picture actually on the beach, and has captured the blue shadows cast by the sun on the younger woman’s bodice. Her companion’s bonnet is the type worn at Staithes, Yorkshire. Several Cullercoats artists visited the artists’ colony there.
Isa Thompson married the artist Robert Jobling in 1893.