We've always wanted to go out on another jaunt together; two weeks ago I was pleased that Fiona felt she was well enough for a trip to Willingham Auctions. You can read more about what we got up to on Fiona's blog, but I can now reveal that one of the commission bids I left with the auctioneer was successful.
I'm now the owner of this etching . . .
So who was Orovida? I confess I hadn't heard of her, but as soon as I found out who she was I started to get excited . . .
Meet Orovida Camille-Pissarro, the only child of Lucien Pissarro and his English wife Esther, and Grand-daughter of Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro. Yes, that's the French Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro!
Here's Orovida as she saw herself – in a self-portrait painted when she was 24 years old, you can see the portrait in the Pissarro family archive in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Orovida was born in Epping in Essex in 1893 and she was taught to paint in the French Impressionist style by her father Lucien and then in 1913 she became a pupil of Walter Sickert. She looks like a determined woman, doesn't she? Formidable perhaps? She turned her back on her family's heritage and became fascinated by the art of India, Persia and Japan; in her early 20s she dropped her family name and signed her art 'Orovida' and began to produce decorative and illustrative work. Her mother was worried about her daughter becoming artist with all the attached insecurity of income and wanted her to study music instead, but Orovida apparently persuaded her by studying etching which could lead to becoming an illustrator. Even though she was passionate about Eastern art she never travelled to Asia, all her inspiration came from museums and the animals in London Zoo, in particular she loved Mongolian horses and Indian tigers.
So, what a treat! I've stumbled upon one of Orovida's beloved tigers in an etching from 1917 when she was 23 and trying to walk her own path, leaving the weight of a famous father and artist mega-star grand-father behind.
Photograph of Orovida from the Stern Pissarro Gallery, London.In her later years she returned to oil painting and painted colourful pictures of children and families as well as her beloved horses and cats – big and small. She died in 1968, I wonder what it was like to meet her? I'm very pleased to have met one of her prints.