This utterly charming still life of humble lily-of-the-valley in a glass is almost magically joyful.
It is a work by Franco-British artist Paul Lucien Dessau.
Born in London in 1906 into a family with French origins, Paul came to spend time in France as an adult. Our painting, dating from the 1960s, was likely painted there, the stretcher being of a traditional French size, 27 x 22 cm.
The French connection may well be of relevance to our charming still life. Lily-of-the-valley - called "Muguet" in French - are flowers with a special significance in France. On May day, it is customary to give little bouquets of lily-of-the-valley as a gesture of friendship and appreciation, as well as a lucky charm, to family and friends. I think these attributes are represented here.
Paul was the third of four children: his father died when he was young and he did not do well at school. On leaving school he joined a commercial art studio as an apprentice, mostly doing catalogue work for department stores. In due course, he left to start his own design studio with his brother Bernard. Whilst continuing to work, Paul Dessau began to study part-time at the Hornsey School of Art and then took anatomy classes at the Central School of Art and Design and eventually began to show works at various London galleries.
Dessau was a fireman artist in World War II: his painting "And So To Bed", held by the Imperial War Museum, is sombre and elegiac; four canvases generally titled Menace, in the London Fire Brigade Museum, reflect Dessaus first-hand knowledge of conflagrations during the Blitz. Paul Dessau developed a style that was very much his own, with great purity and simplicity
Paintings by Paul Dessau are in the collections of the Museum of London, the Yale Centre for British Art, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Worcester City Art Gallery, and other institutions.
Measuring 22 x 27 cm, our oil on canvas is signed at the lower right. The overall framed size is 34 x 29 cm.
Please fill in the information below