Aunt Elizabeth by Edmund Blampied

'Aunt Elizabeth’ by Edmund Blampied, oil on canvas, c.1922-23 

In April 2022, Jersey Heritage acquired a new oil painting for their art collection by the renowned local artist Edmund Blampied titled ‘Aunt Elizabeth’. 

The work depicts an elderly woman, stooped over a table peeling vegetables into a bowl. She wears a full length, brown skirt, green shirt, apron and dark bonnet.  

One of Jersey’s most iconic 20th century artists, Blampied is best known for depicting scenes of rural Jersey life and bringing to life the people that lived and worked in the Island. Jersey Heritage have an extensive collection of the artist’s work, which includes watercolour paintings, etchings, drawings and a number of his sketchbooks, however this oil painting was identified as a unique piece and unlike anything else that we had already in the collection.  

‘Aunt Elizabeth’ is thought to be Blampied’s paternal aunt, Elizabeth de Gruchy. Painted in 1922/23, the work is in excellent condition and has been described as an ‘exceptional’ piece by a local art specialist. The painting was shown at Blampied’s first exhibition of paintings held at the Leicester Gallery in London in February 1923. It was priced at 85 guineas and was entitled ‘Tante Elisabeth’ in the catalogue. In May 1923, the work was reproduced on the front cover of the monthly art magazine ‘Drawing and Design’ (Vol. 3); a copy of this was very kindly donated to Jersey Heritage at the time that the oil painting was acquired.  

Edmund Blampied was born at Ville Bree, St Martin, Jersey on 30th March 1886 to John and Elizabeth Blampied. His father had died four days before the artist’s birth, leaving his mother with four young children to raise. Edmund’s father was the sixth child of Richard Charles Blampied, a farmer in Trinity, and his wife Esther (née Quérée). Their fifth child, a daughter named Elizabeth, born on 10th June 1846, was John’s elder sister and Edmund’s Aunt Elizabeth.  

Aunt Elizabeth Blampied married a farmer, Thomas Philippe de Gruchy, in March 1871, and the couple lived initially with Thomas’ aunt, Delicia Germain, at the Royal Hotel in St Martin. Elizabeth de Gruchy had seven children with Thomas: Eliza Matilda (b. 1871), Thomas John (b. 1874), Mary Ann Marguerite (b. 1876), Alfred Samuel (b. 1878), Philip Durrell (b. 1881), Eleanor Florence (b. 1884) and Francis William (b. 1888). In around 1889, Elizabeth’s husband died at a relatively young age, so like her sister-in-law Elizabeth Blampied, she found herself a widow with young children to raise.  ‘Aunt Elizabeth’ by Edmund Blampied, oil on canvas, c.1922-23 

In around 1894, Elizabeth Blampied and her four sons moved from St Martin to Les Augrès in Trinity, where she ran a small shop and worked as a dress maker.  In the Census of 1901 the Blampied family were living at 3 Augrès Villas, Trinity, two doors down from Herald House where Edmund’s Aunt, Elizabeth de Gruchy, also listed as a dress maker, now lived with her daughter Mary Ann and her husband. Edmund was 15 in 1901 and may have been living a few doors away from his Aunt Elizabeth for several years. She obviously made an impression on him. 

Elizabeth de Gruchy died in March 1925 at the age of 79 and she is buried in St Martin’s Church cemetery. 

Our thanks goes to Andrew Hall and Marie Trippett for researching and supplying us with this information about Edmund Blampied’s family and his Aunt Elizabeth. Marie Trippett is Edmund Blampied’s great-niece. 


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