University of Malta

The Victor Pasmore Bequest
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In September 2018 the UM Library, Special Collections Department was the lucky recipient of a collection of ca. 500 books, (some with insertions and dedications by the authors), belonging to the late British artist Victor Pasmore (1908-1998). 

The collection of books was bequeathed through Mary Samut-Tagliaferro to University Library by his children John Henry Pasmore and Mary Ellen Nice and will be known as the “Victor Pasmore Bequest”. Pasmore, together with his wife Wendy née Blood (1913-2015), who was herself an artist, had lived in Malta since the late 1960s making a typical Maltese farmhouse “Dar Ġamri” located on the outskirts of the small sleepy village of Gudja their home. The house and garden became, over time, an extension of the artist’s personality and art.

The bequeathed books formed part of Pasmore’s personal library and are predictably mostly concerned with art, with the works of some local artists namely Richard England, Gabriel Caruana, and Pawl Carbonaro also represented. Other subjects such as philosophy, religion, architecture and poetry are also represented in his collection. 

Many of the books are well thumbed as can be seen by the reader’s underlining of whole passages of text in pencil, sometimes with vertical pencil lines running down the margins of paragraphs of texts for greater emphasis. Pasmore’s presence is also felt through his unorthodox use of bookmarks, which luckily for us serve to further enrich the collection, given that  he was apt to mark the page with whatever came to hand at the time. Examples include a postcard, a letter or an exhibition invitation. He also had the habit of cutting out images from a magazine or newspaper of say a modern building that caught his architectural interest and inserting it in between the pages of a book on the subject. Sometimes these cuttings were pasted on to the page. As a result, his presence when leafing through his library of books, remains close. 

Victor Pasmore, as mirrored in his art and by his personal library of books, was a deep thinking man interested in the inner spirit of art and in the fundamental philosophical problems of our existence. The collection of books is currently being catalogued and will soon be made available to researchers for consultation. The University of Malta Library would like to thank his children John Henry Pasmore and Mary Ellen Nice for their generosity in choosing to donate their late father’s collection of books to our Library.

Thank you.



Text and photos: Mary Samut-Tagliaferro

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Last Updated: 2 January 2019

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