This is a drawing, 18" by 13" inside the mat (28 1/2" by 22 1/2" as framed), titled "Street in Lassouts", by a notable yet sadly somewhat forgotten Canadian artist, FRANK DRUMMOND ALLISON (1883-1951). Signed at lower left, the drawing, executed in watercolor washes and soft pencil directly on a Bainbridge illustration board (not on paper), shows an elderly female figure at center, descending stone stairs of an old house to the warren of narrow streets below. The scene is very Old World, the houses dating to a number of centuries back. Research has shown the town of Lassouts to be in south-central France, not far from the Pyrenees Mountains. Most likely, the work was executed in the years between 1927 and 1936, when the artist had the means and freedom to travel extensively, in Europe, North Africa, and even the Caribbean islands. Today the artist is possibly most appreciated in his home province of New Brunswick, Canada, where late in life he maintained a studio at St. John. A gallery in that city has worked in recent years with surviving relatives to promote Allison's works, the estate containing a number of oil paintings, watercolors, and even original sketchbooks. Some sketchbooks and works are in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum. A biography on the gallery site tells an interesting story of an artist who decided evidently to stray from the Group of Seven lockstep of his time, the artists around him "choosing to build a national identity based on the Canadian landscape". Allison on the other hand struck out on his own, choosing as his subjects more exotic scenes of distant places. During his life, he found himself studying with John F. Carlson, and traveling and working with George Elmer Browne, both noted teachers. His style also seems to take from the painter and graphic artist Frank Brangwyn. For years Allison exhibited at the Royal Canadian Academy in Toronto, and he was a life member of the American Watercolor Society. Prestigious galleries like Babcock Gallery in New York City held exhibitions of his work, as did other galleries in the northeast and Mid-West. This drawing somehow made its way to Southern California where I found it having survived the years very well. It is very clean and fresh, though the camera seems to falsely accentuate the intensity of the colors. Allow for some reflections in the sky especially.
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