Harold Harvey was one of the few Cornish artists associated with both the Newlyn Colony and the Lamorna Artists. He studied at the Penzance School of Art under Norman Gastin, and in the 1890s he travelled to Paris to attend the Academie Julian. On his return to Cornwall he continued to live in Penzance until the time he got married in 1911 to the artist Gertrude Bodinar. They relocated to Maen Cottage in Newlyn.
His work was initially impressionistic, mostly depicting views of the contemporary Cornish fishing and agricultural communities. A muted palette implies his awareness of the early generation of the Newlyn artists.
From 1905 his style matured quite considerably, moving towards a simplification of form and a much brighter palette, revealing a great ability to embrace the changing Newlyn styles, always reflecting a deep devotion to his beloved Cornwall. Soon he broadened his subject matter to include sophisticated interiors in an increasing flatter and more decorative style. In 1924 he received public recognition when he was selected to take part in the Venice Biennale.
In the last decade of his life he had developed a remarkable ability within a wide range of subject matter, from interiors, landscapes and religious scenes. His work has become immensely popular and is particularly recognised for its painterly quality.
Harold Harvey had numerous solo exhibitions and showed his work at the Royal Academy in 1898 and then regularly between 1907 and 1941.