Blackpool cottage, Devon
Oil on canvas: 25.5(h) x 21(w) in /
64.8(h) x 53.3(w) cm
Signed with monogram and dated lower left: LP 1921; inscribed on the stretcher: Blackpool 1921
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Paris 1863 – 1944 Hewood, Somerset
Blackpool cottage, Devon
Signed with monogram and dated lower left: LP 1921;
inscribed on the stretcher: Blackpool 1921
Oil on canvas: 25 ½ x 21 in / 64.8 x 53.4 cm
Frame size: 36 x 31 in / 91.4 x 78.7 cm
In a ….frame
Painted 26th May-3rd June 1921
The artist and by family descent until 1961;
Sotheby’s London, 12th July 1961, lot 206
Leger Gallery, London
Valerie Nelson, New York
Parke-Bernet, New York, 21st May 1969, lot 44, illus.
Ross Peacock, USA
Private collection, USA
London, Goupil Gallery, Salon, November-December 1921, no.177
Sketchbook 71, Pissarro Family Archive, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The Daily Telegraph, 21st November 1921
The Daily Mail, 28th November 1921
Recorded in John Bensusan-Butt’s list of paintings by Lucien Pissarro at The Brook, Stamford Brook, in 1949
Anne Thorold, A Catalogue of the Oil Paintings of Lucien Pissarro, London 1983, pp.21; 154-5, no.325, illus.
Lucien Pissarro spent from February to July 1913 lodging at The Mill in the village of Blackpool, four miles from Dartmouth, Devon. That spring he was joined by his pupils, the musician and artist James Brown (1863-1943) and by his daughter Orovida (1893-1968). The deep, winding lanes, wooded combes and thatched cottages of Blackpool appealed strongly to Pissarro and he returned to the village in 1921 and 1922.
In 1921, the year that Blackpool cottage was painted, Pissarro stayed in the village from 10th January-15th February and again from 18th April-24th May. Eight pictures, including Blackpool cottage, resulted from the spring campaign. Painting en plein air, Lucien was frustrated by the weather and by the sudden lurches in the advance of spring, which might cover a tree with leaves which he had painted bare the day before. He expressed his perplexity in letters to his wife and fellow artist Esther.
We know from Lucien’s meticulously kept diaries that Blackpool cottage was painted on his return to The Brook, Stamford Brook, west London, the ‘paradise’ that he had acquired in 1902. He worked on it on 26th and 27th May, 1st and 2nd June, and by 3rd June could record ‘Afternoon put finishing touch to Blackpool Cottage’. The complex upright composition, looking down a steep lane to rising ground beyond, reflects Lucien’s originality of vision, but also interestingly echoes Camille Pissarro’s Paysage avec trois paysans (cat. no.2) and his own East Hill and Old Town, Hastings (cat. no.8). As with both of these paintings, humanity is peaceably enfolded within the landscape. The flowers growing on the lean-to of the thatched cottage in the foreground, their vivid green and white flag-bearers of spring, underscore the interdependence of the man-made and the natural. Lucien skilfully creates a sense of recession through interlocking tones: shifts from emerald- to pine- to yellow-green, interspersed with the red roofs of Blackpool’s houses. At the same time, he is aware of the patterns that the landscape makes on the picture surface and delights in its richness of texture. The trees in the right foreground are composed from short, nervous strokes and the bare branches have the elegance of a Japanese woodcut. Lucien, like his father, admired Japanese prints and his training and practice as a wood engraver gives his draughtsmanship a tensile strength. The distant trees, however, are painted with swirls and dabs of colour that approach abstraction, showing that he was very much abreast of Post-First World War currents.
Paris 1863 – 1944 Hewood, Somerset
Lucien Pissarro was the eldest son and pupil of Camille Pissarro. He grew up among the Impressionists, and frequent visitors to the family home included Monet, Cézanne and Guillaumin. Although he attempted a career in business, he quickly abandoned it and after spending the year 1883 studying in England, which he had already visited with his family during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, he returned to Eragny and studied wood-engraving under August Lepère.
In 1885, both Camille and Lucien were introduced to Georges Seurat and his disciple Signac in Paris, and both were drawn towards Neo-Impressionism. All four artists’ work was shown together in a separate room at the eighth and last Impressionist show in 1886 (Lucien Pissarro’s entry consisted of woodcuts and watercolours). Pissarro exhibited with the Salon des Indépendants between 1886 and 1894. During this period he experimented with Divisionism; however, he continued to produce woodcut illustrations, prints and lithographs, which formed the major part of his work until 1900.
By then he was living permanently in England and he married a British woman, Esther Bensusan (1870-1951), with whom he formed the Eragny Press which produced thirty books before it was forced to close with the onset of the Great War. Pissarro, who had begun painting again after the turn of the century, began exhibiting with the New English Art Club in 1904, joined the Fitzroy Street Group in 1913 and the Monarro Group in 1919. Lucien Pissarro promoted Impressionist theories to artists such as Sickert, Spencer Gore and his close friend James Bolivar Manson with whom he went on painting expeditions and corresponded over many years. He made an important contribution in bringing a new impetus to British painting in the early years of the twentieth century.
 Thorold, op. cit., p.21.
 Ibid., pp.150-155, no.318-325.
 Letters in the Pissarro Family Archive, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
 I am grateful to Colin Harrison, Senior Curator of European Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, for the references to Lucien’s diaries.