SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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The Members of the Pen and Pencil Society.

An album of paintings by a society of amateur women artists. All the contributors (save two) have included a photograph pasted alongside or in the painting and most have signed their names. The Pen and Pencil Society along with its President, the mysterious Miss G.E. Ellis, have faded from memory with only this utterly charming album as a reminder of their genteel world of accomplished, unpretentious picture making.

n.p. London, June 1894
n.p. London, June 1894

On the beautifully illustrated title page is inscribed: 'The Members of the Pen and Pencil Society on attaining its 25th year herewith present to their President their best wishes and congratulations June 1894'. The President is a 'Miss Ellis' to whom a dedicatory poem has been written on the leaf before the title page. Oblong album (256 x 315mm) with twenty-six heavy card leaves each with a protective leaf. Bound in full maroon calf with a green buckram spine (the maroon calf back strip is detached but is present) and stamped 'G.E.E.' in gilt on the upper board. A.E.G., doublures lavishly decorated in gilt and decorated cloth endpapers. With a protective brown corduroy bag (G.E.E.' embroidered on the front) has been made especially for the album, almost certainly contemporaneously. Some rubbing to extremities of the album but otherwise in very good condition. Internally excellent, the paintings wonderfully fresh still. In addition to the dedication and title pages, there are twenty-two leaves each one illustrated with watercolours on the recto by members of the society, although one member has contributed a poem by Robert Browning with no painting. They are all women although the poem "To Miss Ellis" is signed by Wyke Bayliss. He was a Victorian artist specialising in ecclesiastical interiors and, although he was a friend of the leading Pre-Raphaelites, his style and subject matter were completely his own. He was also a writer on art (Oscar Wilde admired his work) and a poet. In 1858, he married Elise Letitia Broad who, as E.L.Bayliss contributed the first painting in this album - a fine botanical study. It is striking, but not surprising that the only contributor whose biography is readily available should be a man while the artists without whom the album would not exist are known to us now only by their names and photographs, unremembered by virtue of their sex. This is sad as the paintings collected here are of a high standard even if their subject matter and style - flowers, landscapes and melancholy maidens - recall the Sunday afternoon amateur. Coloured prints in order: 1. A dedication 'To Miss Ellis' in manuscript (uncoloured), signed by Wyke Bayliss. 2. A very decorative title page in watercolour. 3. A glorious botanical watercolour - leaves and buds. Untitled, but signed E.L. Bayliss. 4. A botanical watercolour in black and white - leaves only. Signed, and an inset photograph of Helen Mackenzie (artist). 5. A lovely landscape watercolour (untitled and unsigned). 6. A watercolour of a folding screen with a pair of motto-like inscriptions (untitled). An inset initialed 'S.L.' photograph of the artist. 7. A landscape scene of trees on a riverbank in black and white. With a title and attractive floral marginalia. Signed 'Meg' and with an inset photograph. 8. A pretty botanical watercolour of garden flowers. Signed and with an inset photograph of A.M. Stenhouse, the artist. 9. A black and white watercolour of a seaside town coupled with a poem by Burns written in manuscript. Signed and with an inset photograph of Kathleen Lucas, the artist. 10. A lovely watercolour of a rural farm cottage, nestled by a pond. With a signed inset photograph of Winifred Airlee, the artist. 11. A beautiful botanical watercolour of a bunch of roses. With a signed inset photograph of Adele Attlee, the artist. 12. A watercolour of a country field with cottages, framed delightfully by flowers and a decorative mauve ribbon. Signed, with an inset photograph of Kathleen Mary Attlee, the artist. 13. A 'framed' watercolour of the North Yorkshire town of Whitby. Signed, with a title and date and an inset photograph of K. Simpson, the artist. 14. A poem, originally by Robt. Browning, written in beautiful manuscript. Signed, dated and with an inset photograph of E.S. Worthington. 15. A signed watercolour of a street scene at dusk with a woman looking into a the interior of a illuminated shop window. With beautiful floral borders, and with an inset photograph of T. Metcalfe, the artist. 16. A signed, dated watercolour of a pair of horses pulling a plough in a field. 'Framed' in wood, and with large daisy flowers as a partial border. Inset photograph of Katharine Dorinda Carbonell, the artist. 17. A pair of lovely vignette-style watercolours of pastoral and landscape scenes, with wild grasses in the upper half of the watercolour. With a signed inset photograph of the artists - Lucy, E (Lillie) Martineau, L.M (Lena). 18. A lovely watercolour of swooping swallow birds and a background of woodland trees, that frame a scene of a young girl collecting woodland firewood during a snowy winter. There is also an illustrated inset vignette with a photograph of the artist - Kate Belford Coates. 19. A watercolour of steep steps and surrounding houses in Rye, Sussex. With a lead pencil and a cut feathered quill as marginalia. Signed by the artist F.A. Coles. 20. A wonderful signed small watercolour depicting 'The Seasons' - farm workers collecting and stacking hay in a field surrounded by beautiful summer berries and flowers. Inset photograph of A. Billing - the artist. 21. A full page watercolour of a young mother and her small son praying before a stone cross in a field by a river. With a signed inset photograph of the artist 'S.E.S.' 22. A watercolour of Whitby Abbey with an inscription in manuscript by J. Phillips underneath. Four pretty Whitby Abbey roundels are found in each corner, plus another quote inscription, together with small watercolour representations of the seals of St.Hilda and St.Peter. Above the Whitby Abbey watercolour is a decorative floral vignette with a circular photograph of the artist. 23. A really lovely watercolour of Elm Grove [House] in Kingsclere, Berkshire. Surrounding the house are very skilfully painted and attractive flowers depicted on the branch. There is a signed and dated inset photograph of the artist - Agnes Holding. 24. A rural landscape scene of a cottage set amongst rolling countryside. Framing three sides of the watercolour is a motto. There is a small inset photograph of the artist.