Samuel John Lamorna Birch, RA, RWS (1869-1955)
Samuel John Birch was born in Egremont, Cheshire. Apart from a brief period of study at the Atelier Colarossi, Paris in 1895, he was largely self-taught as an artist.
He first developed an interest in drawing during a stay with a river-keeper, where he was introduced to fly fishing. Subsequent factory jobs allowed him to paint in his spare time and save the money needed to become an independent artist. Within no time he had established a reputation as a promising young artist and he was successful in selling his work to wealthy industrialists.
In 1889 Birch set off for the Newlyn School in Cornwall and was an entirely self-taught artist until 1895, when he travelled to Paris to study in the Atelier Colarossi. He adopted the epithet Lamorna in 1895 to distinguish himself from fellow artist Lionel Birch (an idea suggested by Stanhope Forbes). He is regarded as the father figure of the later group of Newlyn artists, which included Laura and Harold Knight, Alfred Munnings, Frank Gascoigne Heath and Stanley Gardiner, known as the Lamorna group.
Birch was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) in 1924 and was made a full Royal Academician (RA) eight years later. In his long and distinguished career, he exhibited over 200 works at the Royal Academy, as well as exhibiting throughout the Country and abroad.
For more information, see 'A Painter Laureate: Lamorna Birch and his Circle', Austin Wormleighton, published by Sansom & Co, ISBN 1-872971-49-0