Lucien Pissarro in England: the Eragny Press 1895-1914, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Friday 21 January 2011
Lucien Pissarro was the eldest son of the Impressionist painter, Camille Pissarro. This pleasingly informative exhibition, on display in a single large gallery at the Ashmolean, tells the story of how Lucien, packed off to England to rid him of the perennial itch to be an artist did not quite do what his mother so fervently desired.
Once in England, Lucien fell in with a group of artists who were adherents of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. In the 1890s, Morris had founded the Kelmscott Press to produce exquisite, hand-made books. Lucien and his friends wanted to do something similar, and so for the next 20 years he laboured over the spasmodic production of 32 hand-crafted books with his wife, Esther.
This exhibition is extremely well documented and well presented. Most of the books are here, open for us to scrutinise how he set about solving the problem of how to marry illustration with text to pleasing effect, and there is much additional material too – photographs of the family, preparatory drawings and Lucien's sets of engraving tools.
Camille was worried about what Lucien would turn into once he was settled over here. Would he remain true to Nature as the Impressionists had captured it naively, on the wing?
A bit of yes and a bit of no. The fact is that it would have been extremely difficult to capture fleeting impressions of the effect of wind or light on a woodblock print.
Lucien's books ranged widely in theme and time. He produced a selection of the fairy tales of Charles Perrault and even an edition of Milton's "Areopagitica". Some of these books are enormously intricate, exhausting labours of love. After the press closed, he went back to painting, somewhat in the Impressionist manner. Not too badly infected by John Bull after all then.
To 13 March (01865 278002)
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
- 4 Nicki Minaj finally releases predictable 'Anaconda' video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Laughs go global as Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran bring international comedians to the Edinburgh Fringe
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women