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Your place to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. Through interviews, films, image galleries and essays, we uncover the creative lives of the people behind the art on our walls.

Shelf Life: Gems from Pallant Gallery Library and Archives

Jackie Browning

[ Library and Archive )

Jackie Browning, Library Volunteer at Pallant House Gallery, writes about two of her favourite books in our Library.

Over the course of 12 years of volunteering in Pallant House Gallery Library, I have catalogued several hundred books! The library has been very fortunate to receive many donations and bequests since it opened.

Generous donations such as the book collections of George and Ann Dannatt (fig 1),  Michael Woodford (fig 2) and recently Bob Lockyer (fig 3), provide important additions to the Library.

It is always exciting opening the boxes to see what treasures are inside, and I have many favourites, but two in particular of all the hundreds I have catalogued have stood out.

I came across the first of my favourites last year when I catalogued some of the books from the studio of Hans Feibusch bequeathed to Pallant House Gallery in 1997. The books had been in storage for some time and many were in poor condition but one in particular really stood out – Das Kathe Kollwitz – Werk, published in 1930 (Fig. 4).

Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was born into a middleclass family and studied art in Munich. Although she studied painting and printmaking, printmaking became her preferred medium to express her preoccupation with the social conditions of the disadvantaged.

The book has little text being more like an album of Kollowitz’s work, with a drawing or print, mostly portraits, on each page and no text other than the picture title. Although the book is not in perfect condition, the sepia and black and white reproductions are very fine and expertly printed.  They are a very powerful demonstration of Kollwitz’s skill as a printmaker to convey the harsh conditions of the poor.

My second favourite is in complete contrast to the Kathe Kollwitz book, not only in its physical condition but also in its subject.

In 2021 the Fleece Press gave us a generous gift of one of their limited editions on the work of printmakers Claughton Pellew and Kechie Tennent. Until now there has been very little of substance written about Pellew or Tennent so this comprehensive, beautifully produced book is a delight, particularly for anyone, like me, who loves their work.

Claughton Pellew was a student at the Slade at the same time as Paul Nash and a close and influential friend of Nash’s brother, John. Similarities of style can be seen in the landscape prints and watercolours of both artists. Pellew portrayed the English landscape as a rural idyll probably as a reaction to the horrors of the first world war. He retreated to the Norfolk countryside with his wife, Kechie Tennent (1888-1968). Pellew’s significant work was produced in the1920’s and early 30s, he ceased printmaking by 1937.

Kechie Tennent met Pellew, the elder son of a neighbouring family in Blackheath. He recognised her talent and encouraged her to train at the Slade School of Art, where Tennent studied alongside Christine Kühlenthal who later married John Nash, a lifelong friend of Pellew.

We have many ‘gems’ in our Library and it’s always a pleasure to find something I’ve not seen before.


Find out more about Pallant House Library and Archives here.

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