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ESTHER PISSARRO

Charles Perrault (1628–1703).
La belle au bois dormant & Le petit chaperon rouge,
deux contes de ma Mere Loye
.
London: Eragny Press, 1899.

Esther Levi Bensusan (1870–1951), the daughter of a Jewish merchant in London, became a leading book illustrator during the height of the Arts and Crafts movement in England. As a teenager studying at the Crystal Palace School of Art, she met Lucien Pissarro (1863–1944), son of the French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. Married in 1892, she and Lucien Pissarro shared a deep admiration for William Morris and the artistic ideals embodied by his Kelmscott Press books. Following the birth of their daughter Orovida in 1893, the couple established the Eragny Press, which specialized in high-quality literary editions illustrated with wood-engravings.

For the exhibited book, both Esther and Lucien Pissarro engraved multiple wood blocks after Lucien’s designs. Printed in sequence, distinct blocks for different colors provided the black outlines, the gray-green shading, and the decorative gold backgrounds. Bridwell Library’s copy bears an inscription for Esther’s brother, “To S[amuel] L[evy] Bensusan from Lucien & Esther Pissarro.”