This is a delightful exhibition whether you are interested in the technicalities of bookmaking or just enjoy looking at beautiful things.
In many ways, Lucien Pissarro’s work is the very opposite of his more famous father, the impressionist Camille Pissarro. Lucien left his native Normandy to settle in London where he was attracted to the Arts and Crafts movement.
This led to a passion for the craftsmanship of printing from carved wooden blocks (a painstaking process, since coloured prints required a separate pear wood block for each colour used) and the establishment of the Eragny Press. The exhibition helpfully includes a number of these blocks which have been used to demonstrate the printing process.
One of the highlights is a set of charming illustrations for a children’s book “La Reine de Poissons” which are evocative of late Victorian children’s literature. Later works include elaborate capital letters designed for “Histoire de la Reine de Matin”, which are reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts and, my personal favourite, the illustrations for a Japanese-style book of oriental poetry.
Helen Ward (DI Reviewer), 27/01/11
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