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Artwork of the Month - August 2009


Coulon Valley, Vaucluse, France

Artist: Maurice de Sausmarez (1915-1969)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Status: Permanent collection
Item No.: GUEMG 2005.12.7a

Maurice de Sausmarez

Maurice de Sausmarez was a painter, illustrator, teacher and writer on art education. He attended 'Christ's Hospital' and then went on to study at the Royal College of Art (1936-39). During his final year Maurice took part in the 1939 Pilgrim Trust 'Recording Britain' project. This project involved commissioning artists to record the buildings and places that might be destroyed by enemy action due to the outbreak of the Second World War. These paintings were subsequently published in a four volume series 'Recording Britain'. The original works are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

After leaving the RCA Maurice became Head of Fine Art at the University of Leeds (non-professorial appointment) and Principal of Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting, London.

It was during his time at Leeds that he became associated with Harry Thubron, the Head of Fine Art at Leeds College of Art. Thubron helped to progress art education in England by establishing the Basic Design Course, the principles of which were inspired by the German Bauhaus college. Very much influenced by Thubron, Maurice went on to publish 'Basic Design: the Dynamics of Visual Form' in 1964. This book helped revolutionise art education all over the world.

Maurice also continued his own artistic career. In 1964 he was elected ARA and showed at the Royal Academy, The New English Art Club and Leicester Galleries.

Maurice de Sausmarez' interest in colour analysis and his 'broken touch' technique are illustrated in this painting of Coulon Valley, Vaucluse, France. It shows an affinity with early 20th century British art movements such as the Camden Town Group, which were inspired by the French Impressionists.

In 1971 an exhibition took place at Upper Grosvenor Galleries in Maurice de Sausmarez' memory, comprising of works by Maurice and his friends.