The Rain It Raineth Every Day. Norman Garstin (1847–1926). 1889. Oil on canvas. H 95 x W 164 cm. Collection: Penlee House Gallery & Museum; accession no. PEZPH: 1989.61 (a gift from the artist). Kindly made available via Art UK on the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives licence (CC BY-ND).

According to Art UK, the blue structure glimpsed to the right in the middle of the painting "was a collecting box for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, placed on Penzance promenade in 1877," so this is Penzance on a rainy day, not the sort that brings holiday-makers to Cornwall, but one that occurs there often enough! The title comes from Shakespeare, either from Feste's song at the end of Twelfth Night or the Fool's song in King Lear as he guides the aged king to shelter in Act 3, scene 2. It was probably an old song about the inevitable woes of life, but it need not have any deeper meaning here, beyond the obvious one that even such a lovely place has to have its off-days!

The gallery description tells us that the painting "was sent to the Royal Academy in 1889 but was not hung. It is believed that the committee thought the painting too 'French' in style." What is more, Penzance Town Council kept it from public display lest its grey atmosphere, with a few desultory figures (and dogs and a horse) braving the lashings of rain, put a damper on holiday-makers! "Nowadays," we learn, "it is one of the most popular works in the collection." For a people whose common topic is so often the weather, this also has a wide general appeal — it is probably the best known of all Garstin's works. — Jacqueline Banerjee


"The Rain It Raineth Every Day." Art UK. Web. 30 March 2021.

"The Rain It Raineth Every Day." Penlee House Gallery and Museum. Web. 30 March 2021.

30 March 2021