Simon Bussy is best known for his highly individual portraits and studies of animals in pastel. The present work, depicting a handsome unknown man, is typical of Bussy’s focussed approach to his subject, which favoured precision and clarity over painterly expression.


Albert Simon Bussy trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898). It was at the pioneering Galerie Durand-Ruel that Bussy had his first exhibition of works in pastel between 1897 and 1899. However, it was his association with the Bloomsbury Group of artists and writers that was to become an enduring influence upon his oeuvre.


On his arrival in London in 1901, Bussy was immediately introduced to the artistic and increasingly Bohemian circles that graced the doors of the London Art Club in Mayfair. Here he met the great English painter William Rothenstein (1872-1945) who greatly admired Bussy’s exhibition then on display at Leighton House.


In particular, it was Dorothy Strachey (1865-1960), novelist and translator,...




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Simon Bussy is best known for his highly individual portraits and studies of animals in pastel. The present work, depicting a handsome unknown man, is typical of Bussy’s focussed approach to his subject, which favoured precision and clarity over painterly expression.


Albert Simon Bussy trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898). It was at the pioneering Galerie Durand-Ruel that Bussy had his first exhibition of works in pastel between 1897 and 1899. However, it was his association with the Bloomsbury Group of artists and writers that was to become an enduring influence upon his oeuvre.


On his arrival in London in 1901, Bussy was immediately introduced to the artistic and increasingly Bohemian circles that graced the doors of the London Art Club in Mayfair. Here he met the great English painter William Rothenstein (1872-1945) who greatly admired Bussy’s exhibition then on display at Leighton House.


In particular, it was Dorothy Strachey (1865-1960), novelist and translator, who made the biggest impression on Bussy. Strachey was a close friend of the Bloomsbury group and published her novel Olivia through the Hogarth Press with the help of Virginia Woolf, who founded the publishing house with her husband Leonard. Simon and Dorothy married two years after first meeting, in 1903. This connection firmly places Bussy and Strachey at the forefront of one of the most enriching and enduring cultural circles of the twentieth century.


Bussy and Strachey later set up a home at Le Souco, the house in Roquebrune near Monaco. Le Souco would soon become famous as an intellectual hub where the artistic and literary elite from both sides of the channel were to convene and exchange their ideas. Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf all came to stay at Le Souco for long periods of time. Its place within the history of Bloomsbury is as significant, if not as famous, as 46 Gordon Square, London, the home that Vanessa Bell established with her siblings Virginia, Adrian and Thoby in 1904. 


In the early years of the twentieth century Bussy focussed predominantly on portraiture, painting portraits of some of the most notable English society figures of the period. In around 1912 he turned his artistic attention to animals, which he studied obsessively at London Zoo, and over the following decades he painted some of the most idiosyncratic oil and pastel studies of nature within twentieth century British art.

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500 Years of British Art