E. Venis: 19th-Century Hastings

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This fascinating collection of watercolours by E. Venis appear to be the work of a local man who had a particular intimacy with his subjects and the fishing community at Hastings on the Sussex coast. These paintings capture the very particular style of sustainable beach-launched fishing which takes place at Hastings to this day. The boats are hauled onto the town's shingle beach, the Stade, after each fishing trip, so they are necessarily modest in size, and the resulting inshore fishing practices are ecologically sound. In the 19th century this was done with the assistance of horses and local net shops grew up around this small-scale enterprise. The pictures are also a fascinating document of the changing coastline at Hastings, devastated by gales in the 1870s and 1880s, and showing the pier fire of 1917. The collection resonates with the work of a number of earlier well-known 19th-century watercolourists working at Hastings - including J.M.W. Turner, William Henry Hunt, Samuel Prout, David Cox, William Collingwood and Peter de Wint - who were all drawn to the town for its marine subjects.