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Louis Reckelbus

(1864-1950) – Belgian refugee art teacher

Louis Reckelbus was among the first Belgian refugees to come to St Ives. He soon played a major part in the life of the community where he helped raise significant relief money. He used the studio of photographer and musician Herbert Lanyon, father of painter Peter Lanyon.

Credit: St Ives Archive and David Tovey

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Louis Reckelbus (1864-1950) was among the first of ninety-nine Belgian refugees who came to St Ives early in the war. Apparently St Ives was among the first towns in Cornwall to welcome refugees from that war-torn country, and it was the women artists who played a major role in organising and promoting the relief to finance the Belgians’ stay over the next few years.

Largely self-taught, Reckelbus came from the city of Bruges, and soon played a major part in the life of the St Ives community. He helped to raise significant sums of money for his compatriots by selling his paintings through the Belgian Refugees Fund Committee, of which he was an active member.  The example illustrated here is of St Ives fishing boats off Godrevy.

Reckelbus also gave painting lessons. One of his students was Frances Lloyd, the daughter of a prominent American painter, who moved to Bridge Cottage at Zennor. She was the grandmother of the composer George Lloyd, who was born at the St Eia Hotel in St Ives in 1913. While in the town Recklebus used the studio of the photographer and musician Herbert Lanyon, father of painter Peter Lanyon.

On his return to Belgium at the end of the war, Reckelbus kept in contact with events in St Ives by taking the local paper, The St Ives Times. He said: ‘I always think of my exile which I always associate with a little unspoiled Paradise …inhabited by a noble and generous people to whom no form of suffering appeals in vain'.

Credit: St Ives Archive and David Tovey