Virgil Burnett (1928-2012) was an artist, author, teacher and founder of the Pasdeloup Press. Burnett received his undergraduate education at Columbia University, New York, where he majored in Painting. After military service during the Korean War, he took a Master’s Degree in Art History at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Art History at the University of Paris in 1956-1957, and remained in Europe until 1961, drawing painting and travelling. In Paris, Burnett worked with Maurice Darantière, a distinguished master printer and publisher of fine books, whose wide acquaintance included Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and many others. Darantière exhibited Burnett’s early drawings at the Hôtel Mansart de Sagonne, an old building in the Marais, where he had his home and studio. He encouraged the young artist to take his vocation as a dessinateur seriously and soon Burnett received commissions, such as cover illustrations for Penguin paperbacks, which provided broad exposure for his drawings. From 1973 to 2012 Burnett lived in Stratford, Ontario, taught at the University of Waterloo, produced publications with the Pasdeloup Press imprint, and created a remarkable oeuvre of writing and illustration.
The collection surveys more than forty years of Burnett’s activity as a publisher, writer and illustrator. It consists of more than 200 items, including Pasdeloup Press imprints since its inception in the 1960s, examples of Burnett’s own writing and illustration, original prints, drawings and sketchbooks related to the publications, handwritten notes with the artist’s comments, and printed ephemera.