a passion for Cornish art;
the art collection of Pep & john Branfield

Lay’s Auctioneers feel immensely privileged to have been asked by John Branfield to handle the sale of his and his late wife Pep's art collection.

John is a towering figure in the world of Cornish art, having been the author of several excellent biographies about some of West Cornwall’s most celebrated artistic figures. His work is invaluable to us at Lay's as cataloguers and students of art history, he is someone we have huge admiration for.


John & Pep have over the past 50 years, collected some 200 paintings and ceramics by Cornish artists. In their early days of collecting the Branfields were drawn to the paintings of Newlyn School artists such as Stanhope Forbes, Charles Simpson and Thomas Cooper Gotch. Their interest then moved on to St Ives artists including Robert Borlase Smart, John Anthony Park, and works by St Ives Modernists; John Wells, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Terry Frost and Bryan Wynter.


In later years, paintings by Roger Hilton, Rose Hilton and Paul Feiler were added to the collection. Throughout this period, Pep and John continued to collect the work of artist friend Tony Giles and, in fact, the very first and very last paintings they acquired were by Tony.

If you are a follower of Cornish art then some of these works may be familiar to you as the Branfields lent frequently to public galleries and exhibitions. An excellent selection of their collection was recently on show at Penlee House Museum and Gallery in: A Passion for Cornish Art: 50 Years of Private Collecting. This exhibition can be seen until 13th January 2024.

It comes as no surprise that John & Pep have amassed so many works of such excellence and breathtaking beauty. Their collection is an exceptional example of well-considered acquisitions; they bought well, every piece has quality and merit.

The collection brought them great joy and it is a joy for us too, to handle it and to see its transition, soon to bring delight to new owners.

date & location

This auction takes place on 29th Feb 2024 in Penzance, Cornwall & Online.



london viewing

6 Masons Yard, St, James’s, London SW1Y 6BU
(what3words: march.look.barks)

A selection of works on view:
Tue 13 Feb 10am–6pm
Wed 14 Feb 10am–6pm
Thu 15 Feb 10am–8pm
Fri 16 Feb 10am–6pm
Sat 17 Feb 10am–6pm

penzance viewing

Opening Evening:
Fri 23 Feb 6pm–8pm with talk from John at 6:30pm
(what3words: organic.cello.polishing)

Full collection on view:
Sat 24 Feb 10am–5pm
Mon 26 Feb 10am–5pm
Tue 27 Feb 10am–5pm
Wed 28 Feb 10am–7pm

Many of the works in this collection were on display at Penlee House 10 Oct 2023 – 13 Jan 2024.


Penlee House


Discover the exhibition at Penlee House