Denys Corbet

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Denys Corbet (1826-1909) was a Guernsey-born poet and painter. He held several other occupations during his lifetime however his principle position was as headmaster at the Forest Primary School.



Corbet was born in Vale parish, Guernsey, Channel Islands and was educated at Vale Primary School. He lived in Guernsey for the majority of his life and for a short period in Jersey. It is believed that he was a self-taught painter. His style of painting became a unique form of the Naiive style of painting and his primary medium was watercolour; his secondary being oils.


Corbet was again believed to have been self-taught as a poet and wrote in Dgèrnésiais - Guernsey French. Scholars believe that he wrote in a dialect stemming from the Vale, infused with other parish variations. Corbet described himself as the Le Draïn Rimeux (The Last Poet). He is best known for his poems, especially the epic L'Touar de Guernesy (Tour of Guernsey), a picaresque tour of the ten parishes of Guernsey and Les Feuilles de la Foret (The Leaves of the Forest) among numerous others. Today Corbet is gaining scholarly attention for his poetry whereas before he was better known primarily for his paintings.

Private Life

Corbet married Mary "Elizabeth" Wellington (1833-1909) in Jersey in 1852. They had six children. The family settled at "La Roberge" an approximate 8 acre farm in the intimate parish of the Forest. Corbet was a School Head Master as well as a farmer, constable and clock repairer.

Career and commissions

Corbet painted several personal works during his life but the majority were commissioned paintings. These included his primary subject of the Guernsey cow, horses and on occasion residences, sometimes all combined in one composition.

In his poetry Corbet had two books published and many poems published by the island newspapers however none of his poems were ever known to be commissioned.

Portraits by other Artists

Corbet was the subject of only one known portrait artist during his lifetime and that was by Arsène Garnier, photographic artist.

Three portraits have since been created posthumously of Denys Corbet that being created by Christian Corbet a cousin of Denys's. These were executed in 2009 and consisted of an oil painting, bronze bust and bronze medallion.

Special Collections

The Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery have several of Corbet's original paintings in their collections and the Priaulx Library has copies of his original publications.

The Corbet Family Channel Islands Collection has in their archives Corbet's original writing desk, paint box and several paintings.


In June 2011 a Blue Plaque was placed on La Roberge the former residence of Denys Corbet. The plaque was unveiled by Sir Geoffrey Rowland, Bailiff of Guernsey.


  • Corbet, Christian. Denys Corbet - Forensic Analysis Canadian Art Pulbications, 2009. ISBN

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