Lionel Aggett (1938-2009) was born in Whiddon, on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. He was educated at Exeter School and went on to study architecture with a local firm, J. Francis Smith & Partners. Aggett completed his training as an architect at Kingston School of Art & Architecture, where he was awarded two scholarships from the Royal Institute of British Architects, one to Venice and northern Italy and the other to Rome. Aggett was elected a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1967 and gained six architectural awards during his architectural career.
A keen painter from a young age, when not working on architectural projects, Aggett combined the two pursuits alongside one another successfully, and exhibited his oil paintings, pastels and watercolours widely. His first solo exhibition was held at the Truro Galleries and this led to including group exhibitions with the Pastel Society and the Royal Watercolour Society in London. By 1991 Aggett decided to devote himself full time to painting. Devon, France and above all Italy were among Aggett’s favorite subject matter and he returned to these picturesque landscapes throughout his artistic career.
Aggett’s love affair with Italy began in 1959 when he, as a young architectural scholar, visited Umbria and Tuscany. Once Aggett devoted himself to painting full time at the age of fifty-three, he paid several working visits to northern Italy and Venice, often in preparation for exhibitions. Aggett loved travelling through the landscape at a leisurely pace, stopping at remote villages not yet spoilt by modernity. In his mature years Aggett visited the French countryside during the spring and early summer months, capturing a profusion of colour in pastel; fresh young green foliage, lavender fields as far as the eye could see and burning carpets of red poppies.
Aggett also often sought out the landscape of the Impressionists; Monet’s garden at Giverny, the waterfront of Honfleur and the bright sunlight of the Cote d’Azur. Working in soft pastels, Aggett could work quickly and spontaneously and with an element of immediacy, creating subtle gradation of colour that perfectly captured the atmospheric qualities of the surrounding landscape. In capturing the landscape under bright sunlight or dappled shade, Aggett played with his palette to enhance the moment he saw before his eyes. Aggett was a member of the Pastel Society, the St Ives Society of Artists and an academician of the South West Academy. He wrote several books about his work and travel, particularly of France and Italy.