Collection Online
Watergate Bay, near Newquay, Cornwall

Watergate Bay, near Newquay, Cornwall

oil on canvas
38.5 × 76.1 cm
inscribed in brown paint l.r.: John (underlined) Mogford 1864.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased by the Commissioners of Fine Arts for Victoria, 1864
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Purchased from the artist, on the advice of Sir Charles Eastlake, for the NGV, 1864.

Exhibited: Royal Academy, London, 1864, no. 99; Opening of the New Picture Gallery, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, December 1864; Fine Arts Gallery (Compartment 10), Intercolonial Exhibition, Melbourne, 1866, no. 309; First Loan Exhibition of Works of Art, NGV, Melbourne, 1869, no. 508; Art Exhibition, Mechanic’s Institute, Geelong, November 1892, no. 87; The Sea and Shore, National Gallery of Victoria travelling exhibition, 1965, no. 21.

Before the advent of the Felton Bequest in 1904, acquisitions for the NGV were limited in funds and narrow in scope. The Commission on the Fine Arts was established in 1864 comprising only male Parliamentarians, Public Servants, academics, one journalist and the sculptor Charles Summers, to acquire works for the new Gallery. Allocated £1000 by the Government, they duly instructed the President of the RA and Director of the National Gallery, London, Sir Charles Eastlake to purchase suitable "original works of art by modern artists”. Eastlake occasionally advised the purchase of works straight off the walls of the Royal Academy's exhibition as exemplars of "good taste" in contemporary art. Mogford's Watergate Bay was one such work and was among the first paintings acquired by the Commission.


Original, by William Spencer, London

The frame represents the style common to early acquisitions for the collection, this work having been acquired three years after the inception of the Gallery in 1861. As such, it must be regarded as a reference point for the Melbourne framers of the 1860s and is therefore interesting to compare with the work of Isaac Whitehead, W R Stevens and others. It can also be compared to the Agnew frame on Linnel‘s Wheat, 1860, acquired later, in 1888. The frame is contemporary with the painting but represents a form of wholesale production, making use of composition ornament produced through metal rollers. This frame carries the same scotia ornament and a similar leading edge to the frame on John Pettie’s, An arrest for witchcraft, 1866, which suggests that frame might also be by Spencer. Like many frames at the time, the strap-work pattern on the inner scotia is reminiscent of those reproduced in Owen Jones’ The Grammar of Ornament.

William Spencer
Camden Town, London

The frame uses what appears to be machine-rolled composition ornament on the inner scotia, applied to a wooden chassis. The leading-edge ornament is shaped over a half-round wooden section. The major frame section is mitred at the corners. The slip is water gilded on a red bole. The inner edge of the frame proper is burnished water gilding on a dark grey bole. The remainder of the surface appears to be oil gilded on a white base. The sections of composition are shallow in relief, particularly the leading edge, which is almost lost, perhaps suggesting the use of well worn moulds for the manufacture of these sections. The corners are worked with a stylized shield and scrolled ivy. The working edge, created by the addition of a wood batten to the reverse of the main profile section, is painted deep ochre.


The frame is in good condition but carries losses in the composition of the outer edge ornament. The size layers are deteriorated.

63.5 x 100.0 x 6.5 cm; sight 38.0 x 74.8 cm
More Information
National Portrait Gallery