Pickford Robert Waller, Soldier Ambush - Late 19th-century pen & ink drawing


An original late 19th-century pen & ink drawing, Pickford Robert Waller Soldier's Ambush.

A graphically drawn pen and ink image of a caped figure, possibly a musketeer, encouraging French soldiers to attack a German infantryman. 

Unsigned. Inscribed upper centre: 'Charges Mes Braves Enfans [sic] (Charge my brave children!) - He's Not Looking!'.
Very minor foxing and overall age toning as shown. Glue and paper remnants around the periphery verso due to being historically mounted in an album. Otherwise, in good condition. 
8.1cm x 10.8cm.

This remarkable collection of works shows Pickford Robert Waller's (1849-1930) great versatility as an artist. Waller produced floral designs for wallpaper and fabrics, but he is best known as a prolific designer of books and bookplates: he produced book designs for authors including Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and the poet and dramatist Laurence Binyon.

Many of the studies in our collection feed into that work: there are naturalistic studies of flowers, which were then worked-up into more stylised designs, and there are many humorous illustrations which could be used in books, including copies of work by Alice in Wonderland illustrator Sir John Tenniel.

Waller was a leading member of the Aesthetic Movement, which championed ‘art for art’s sake,’ emphasising the sensual qualities of art and design rather than any practical, moral or narrative purpose it might have. For a late-nineteenth-century aesthete, though, Waller’s background was unusual: he was the son of a builder. Robert John Waller ran a thriving building firm from Lyall Street in London, and when he died in 1892, Pickford Waller continued to run the business. Eventually, though, the arts came to hold more of his attention than bricks and mortar.

As well as being a practising artist himself, Pickford Waller was also an important collector and patron of the arts. In particular, he was an early supporter of James Abbot McNeil Whistler (1834-1903), who he first met as a young man when he visited Whistler’s studio with the artist Matthew White Ridley. Waller became an avid collector of Whistleriana, and Whistler’s influence can be seen in much of his work.

Among Waller’s works in our collection is a rare pamphlet, Bookplates by Pickford Waller, which gives examples of Waller’s book designs, and includes an introduction by W. G. Blaikie Murdoch, discussing Waller's work. According to Blaikie Murdoch, as well as being himself ‘a fecund artist,’ ‘Mr Pickford Waller is mainly known as a connoisseur, especially in modern art.’ He was ‘one of the earliest devotees of Whistler’, with ‘a wonderful collection of Whistleriana.’ For Blaikie Murdoch, though, it is Waller’s work in bookplates that ‘forms an epitome of his capacities.’

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Product code: JH-237

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