Pickford Robert Waller, Pierrot with Lute - Original 19th-century watercolour

An original late 19th-century watercolour painting, Pickford Robert Waller Pierrot with a Lute.

This dramatic watercolour painting, by the distinguished designer and collector Pickford Robert Waller (1849-1930), shows the stock pantomime character Pierrot – the sad clown, who pines for love of Columbine. 

This design shows the contemporary influence of Toulouse Lautrec, whose subjects included the colourful theatrical life, performers and carbaret clubs of Paris in the late 19th century (Lautrec himself dressing as, and being photographed as, Pierrot).

In good condition for its age. Some adhesive marks to verso.
16.4cm x 11.8cm.

This work comes from a number of albums belonging to Waller, showing his 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.’

(Please note that the pamphlet is pictured for information only, and is listed separately for purchase).

Text copyright © 2017 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JG-032

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