Harold Harvey was born in Penzance, 20th May 1874, the son of a bank manager. Harvey studied in Penzance with the Irish born painter Norman Garstin (1855-1926) and in the 1890’s studied, as did so many of his compatriots, in Paris at the Academy Julian under Benjamin Constant (1845-1902) and Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921). At the progressive Académie Julian, Harvey would have been exposed to the recent trends in French painting, particularly the social realism of the influential Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) and his circle, and would certainly have been familiar with the Impressionists and their followers.
Harvey returned to Penzance from France and continued to paint in Newlyn, he married Gertrude, also a painter, and moved to Maen Cottage in Newlyn in 1911. His early work taken from the life of the fishing community reflects the social realism of the Newlyn School and their French antecedents. However, as with many of his colleagues and friends in the Newlyn School, Harvey turned from the harsher subjects of the sea to more gentle scenes of children building sandcastles, flying kites, playing in the sunshine, painted with a brighter palette, colouring seen in the works of Laura (1877-1970) and Harold Knight (1874-1961) and Sir Alfred J. Munnings (1878-1959), arrivals to Lamorna in 1907. In the post war years Harvey’s palette became yet brighter with strong, bold, flat areas of colour, losing its earlier sense of innocence and, in the powerful forms and themes of his works in the 1920’s, shows a familiarity with the Post Impressionists.
Harvey had run an art school in Newlyn with Ernest Procter, ARA (1886-1935), he exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1898 to 1941, in the provinces and in France, and held one-man exhibitions at the Leicester Galleries in 1918, 1920 and 1926; Harvey was one of the leading British Impressionists of the Newlyn School.
His works can be found in museums in: Birmingham; Cardiff; Newlyn and Penzance.