Pastorale, Wood-Engravings by Lucien Pissarro, from the Whittington Press

{Ed. Note: This is another outstanding contribution from Librarything user Celtic (Neil).}

Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944) was an Anglo/French painter, engraver and designer and printer of fine books for his Eragny Press.  Born on the 20th February 1863 in Paris, he was the eldest son of the impressionist painter Camille Pissarro.  He studied under his father and exhibited at the last impressionist Exhibition in 1886.  He visited England in 1870 and 1883-1884 and decided to settle in London in 1890.  He met the book designers/private press printers and engravers Charles Ricketts (Vale Press) and Charles Shannon (Essex House Press) which led to him contributing woodcuts to The Dial (an influential outlet for Modernist literature in English).

Following Pissarro’s marriage to Esther Bensusan he moved to Epping in 1893.  Esther and Lucien ran the Eragny Press from 1894-1914.  He lived at ‘The Brook’ in Stamford Brook from 1902. Lucien exhibited with the N.E.A.C. from 1904, a member from 1906.  He attended Walter Sickert‘s gatherings at Fitzroy Street and was a founder-member of the Camden Town Group in 1911 and the Monarro Group in 1919.  He had his first one-man exhibition at Carfax & Co. in 1913 and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1934. He became an English citizen in 1916 (still visiting the south of France almost annually).

The Eragny Press

Influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and, in particular, by the private presses making exquisite hand-made books, Lucien decided to do something similar and, with his wife Esther, set up the Eragny Press in 1894. Lucien did the type setting and designed and cut the woodblock illustrations while Esther did the bookbinding and also cut many of Lucien’s designs.  Ricketts (from the Vale Press) lent them his Vale type and later, when the Vale Press closed, the Eragny Press printed their books with their own specially designed Brook type.The Eragny Press books ranged widely in theme and time.  They produced a selection of the fairy tales of Charles Perrault and even an edition of Milton’s “Areopagitica”.  Many of the books are enormously intricate, illustrated with multi-coloured wood engravings in pastel shades and with specially cut borders initials and ornaments and, of course, the ‘Brook’ typeface – labours of love! The press produced 32 hand-crafted books before it closed in 1914.

The Book 

From The Whittington Press website:

Pastorale : Wood-engravings by Lucien Pissarro, with a note on the Kelmscott paper by John Bidwell.

The selection of these twenty-four wood-engravings by Lucien Pissarro, mostly done for his Eragny Press, is based on a pastoral theme, at which he excelled.  They are printed from the original boxwood blocks, kindly lent to us by the Ashmolean Museum, and printed on some of the last remaining stock of Joseph Batchelor’s hand-made paper, made to William Morris’s specification, some of which has been generously given to us by the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, where it has lain for over a century.The book contains an introduction by John Bidwell on the origins of the Batchelor paper, and a memoir by Miriam Macgregor of her grandfather, the artist Archie Macgregor, Pissarro’s close friend and neighbour.

About the Edition

  • The Whittington Press 2011
  • The book was published in an edition of 300 copies
  • 160 copies on Batchelor’s Crown and Sceptre paper, quarter-bound in cloth with pre-war Fabriano Ingres printed boards
  • 100 copies printed on Batchelor’s Flower paper made originally for the Kelmscott Press,  Bound in half-leather with Ingres covered boards, with a set of proofs of the engravings, and one additional engraving printed for the first time since Pissarro printed an edition of fifteen (this is the one shown below)
  • 40 copies on Batchelor’s Otter paper, bound in full vellum and with a set of proofs of the engravings, with one additional engraving.
  • Set in 12-point Caslon type and printed on Batchelor’s hand-made Flower paper, made to the specifications of William Morris for the Kelmscott Press
  • Engravings printed from the original blocks
  • Cloth and paper slipcase with title label
  • 295mm X 210mm
  • This is copy IX


{Ed. Note: For whatever reason, the pictures keep loading dark…working on it, but for now you’ll get the idea of the very high quality of this publication.}

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Pastorale, Whittington Press, Slipcase Spine
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Book(s) in Slipcase
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Cover
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Cover Macro View
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Cover of suite of proofs of the engravings with an additional proof
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Books with Slipcase
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Extra Suite of Prints
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Text #1 (Introduction)
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Text #2
Pastorale, Whittington Press, List of Engravings #1
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Text #3
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Text #4 (detail)
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Illustration #1
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Illustration #2
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Sample Illustration #3
Pastorale, Whittington Press, Colophon

One thought on “Pastorale, Wood-Engravings by Lucien Pissarro, from the Whittington Press

  1. This pretty much defines what a great livre d’artiste should look like — flawless book design, one-of-a-kind hand made paper, and exceptional wood-engravings from a world class artist. A stunning production in every aspect.

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