Alan Isaac Rare Books




Ashmolean Museum exhibition.

The One

We were able on Sunday to squeeze into the exhibition on the closing day – a typically tardy response to a ‘home-town’ show – but one which well repaid the effort.

Although appreciable ground is covered, the underlying theme is the twin pull of French roots and adopted English soil. Lucien, the eldest son to the French artist Camille, came to England in 1890 and set up the famous Press with his wife Esther in 1895. Aside from some early children’s books which Lucian wrote as a vehicule for his illustrations, the texts chosen were not his own, but all other aspects of book production were covered ‘in-house’, literally. The actual processes and the division of them is not dwelt upon.

Rather surprisingly this was the first opportunity to study all 32 published works of the Press together. The Ashmolean was well placed to host this show being the possessor of the Pissarro Family Archive.

The printing is bold and clean and the later illustrations assured. However for those concerned with the finished book some comment on the move from printed sheets to complete book would have been helpful. There was displayed a single sheet of block printed floral paper depicting the winter flowering aconite. The bindings were typically done in quarter cloth with attractive, usually flower themed paper, often in two colours – subdued, but stylish. There were on show also some Japanese bindings of books [Livre de Jade-Judith Gautier – 1911], and there were also very accomplished full leather/gilt designed bindings by Katherine Adams and Rene Keifer. Who was the binder in the Pissarro family? Was it Lucian or Esther who designed and produced the floral papers? Interesting questions. Indeed there are sure to be many other productive family collaborations within the world of book production worth recalling.

Sadly the exhibition does not move on, but remains to some degree immortal in a very well produced catalogue- presently sold-out. We can thoroughly recommend it and would be delighted to obtain and forward copies when they become available.

The exhibition was sponsored by the Stern Pissarro Gallery.

Posted by on March 15th, 2011 | Comments Off on Pissarro
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