A5 paperback notebook featuring artwork Pas Mèche (Nothing Doing) by Jules Bastien-Lepage, from the National Galleries of Scotland collection. Blank inside.
A young boy looks directly out of the painting clad in raggedy clothes and large unlaced boots. His relaxed air fits the title which is an abbreviation of the French slang: 'Il n'y a pas meche' meaning 'There's nothing doing'. The whip he holds, and the horn slung on his back suggest that he was a barge boy who would have controlled the horses pulling the barge and alerted the lockmasters of its imminent arrival. The painting was made for the London art dealers Arthur Tooth and Sons and was included in the artist's memorial exhibition held in Paris in 1885.
Bastien-Lepage's paintings of rural people in an earthy tonal style inspired many late nineteenth-century British painters, especially the so-called Glasgow Boys. His own work was influenced by the realist painters, such as Courbet and Millet, and also by Manet in his free handling of paint. The perceived sentimental character of his paintings contributed to their popularity. The majority were based in and around Damvillers, in the Meuse district of north-eastern France, where Bastien-Lepage spent most of his short life.