Edward Le Bas 1904-1966

Edward Le Bas RA was born in London of Anglo-French descent and educated at Harrow. Le Bas read Architecture at Cambridge University in 1924. Inspired by two months spent with the painter Hermann Paul at Meudon, Paris, in 1922, Le Bas studied paintings at the Royal College of Art from 1924 under William Rothenstein.

Painter in oils of portraits, landscapes, still life, flowers and genre. Richly coloured and with paint boldly applied, his work owed much to early 20th Century French and English painting.

As a collector, Le Bas had an extensive collection of works by the Camden Town Group (see below) the painter Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), and of his friend Duncan Grant of the Bloomsbury Group.He amassed a major collection of twentieth century French and English modern paintings, which were exhibited in the Diploma Galleries in the Royal Academy in 1963. As a painter, Le Bas travelled extensively and worked in Majorca, France and Morocco. His first exhibition was with the Lefevre Gallery in 1936. He was elected a member of the London Group in 1942, exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1933 and elected an RA in 1949. He was awarded the CBE in 1957 and resided in Chelsea from 1948. Edward Le Bas is represented in the collections of the Tate Gallery and the Arts Council. South Africa, Australian and New Zealand hold examples of his work..

It is noted in The Art of Bloomsbury by Richard Shone that in 1946 Duncan Grant was a frequent visitor and often worked at 53 Bedford Square, the house of Edward Le Bas and that Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Le Bas took a painting trip to Dieppe in the Autumn of 1946. Visits and periods of travel are listed for the next twenty years in the books chronology until his death in 1966.


The Camden Town Group (1911 - c.1913)

The origins of the Camden Town Group were established in 1904 when Spencer Gore met Walter Sickert in Dieppe, France. Sickert, disillusioned by the artistic scene in England, had lived in Dieppe for six years, but Gore's enthusiasm for the new generation of artists emerging in England, persuaded Sickert to return to London. From 1906 they both had rooms in Mornington Crescent where they worked side by side on small pictures of intimate interiors. It was here that they began the series of paintings of nudes on metal bedsteads, a subject which first appealed to Sickert when he was in Dieppe and which he celebrated in his famous Camden Town Murder paintings.

In 1907, Sickert and Gore rented the first floor of 19, Fitzroy Street, and under the invitation Mr.Sickert at Home held open days every Saturday with tea, conversation and sometimes a concert. Friends and patrons could purchase paintings. Other members of the Group included Harold Gillman, Frederick Spencer Gore, Lucian Pissarro (the son of French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro), and later Robert Bevan, Charles Ginner, Walter Bayes, J.B. Manson, Augustus John and Henry Lamb. Critic Frank Rutter joined the group in 1908 and argued the group should model itself on the French Salon des Independants. By 1911, with the Group's growing reputation, Sickert announced the formation of the Camden Town Group with Spencer Gore as president. Membership was limited to 16 and expressly excluded women. Its name, proposed by Sickert, acknowledged the drab area he frequently featured in his paintings.

Arthur Clifton lent the basement of the Carfax Gallery for the first exhibition in 1911, and each member was allowed to submit 4 works. They held two further exhibitions in December 1911 and 1912. Unfortunately the Group's shows were a failure in financial terms, and the member artists eventually reabsorbed back to the Fitzroy Street Club towards the end of 1913. This diverse group of very talented men contributed to the foundation of the Modern movement in Britain.