Oil on board
H50 x W40cm (H 19 5⁄8 x W 15 3⁄4 in)
Provenance: Purchased by Louis Behrend from the Chenil Gallery in 1911.
Exhibited: Chenil Gallery, London in 1911.
Henry Lamb RA (1883-1960) was one of the leading British figurative painters of the first part of the 20th century. He originally trained as a doctor and was also an accomplished musician. Lamb established himself at the heart of many of London’s artistic circles. He was a Founder Member of the Camden Town group in 1911 alongside Walter Sickert, Spencer and Harold Gilman, and a Founder Member of the London Group in 1913 with Gilman, Mark Gertler and David Bomberg. Lamb was a close friend of Augustus John, patron of Stanley Spencer and friends with members of the Bloomsbury Group, particularly Duncan Grant and Lytton Strachey. His portrait of Lytton Strachey painted in 1914 and now in the collection of the Tate, was described by the eminent art historian and critic Sir John Rothenstein as “one of the best portraits painted in England in this century”.
A Breton Pardon was most likely conceived in 1906 whilst Lamb was in Brittany. It draws strongly on the visual narrative of French painting of the time and depicts a scene unique to that part of the world. Completed in 1911 it was exhibited at the Chenil Gallery that same year and purchased by Louis Behrend.
Abandoning his medical studies to become an artist, in 1905 Lamb moved to London where he studied under Augustus John and William Orpen at their short-lived Chelsea Art School. A highly gifted draughtsman he soon moved to Paris, and painted in Brittany. On his return to London he made his name with an extraordinary full-life sized portrait of Lytton Strachey (now in the Tate).