Lewis des Brisay

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Lewis des Brisay
Lewis des Brisay.jpg
Eric Cecil Lewis Stringer

(1927-01-29)January 29, 1927
Wimbledon, London, England
DiedJanuary 1, 2011(2011-01-01) (aged 83)
Portsmouth, England
Resting placeSt Mary's church in Buriton
  • Painter
  • Illustrator
  • Poet
Spouse(s)Mary Elizabeth Gilmour
  • Herbert Stringer (father)
  • Elizabeth Coley (mother)

Eric Cecil Lewis Stringer, known as Lewis des Brisay, (Wimbledon 29/01/1927 – Portsmouth 01/01/2011) was an English painter, illustrator and poet.


He was born on 29th January 1927 in Wimbledon, London, the youngest of three children. His father Herbert Stringer was an anthropologist and his mother Elizabeth Coley a dressmaker.

He started drawing at a very early age. One of his drawings, when he was just eight years old, was published in one of the first national illustrated newspapers. After leaving school in 1943 and obtaining a School Certificate he went to work in London for the Esso Standard Oil Company for two years as an office boy. In 1945 he joined the army where he stayed three years and where he spent most of his time interviewing recruits.

At the end of this period he returned home to Surrey to live with his parents and started attending the Wimbledon School of Art but left after only two terms saying that he felt he wasn’t learning anything. During this time he received his first commissions from a printer.

In 1949 his father got him an interview for a job at the Natural History Museum, London, where he was immediately employed as an exhibition designer working on layout and display stands. He worked there for two years and it was during this period, in 1950, that he met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Gilmour, an archeologist, who had also recently joined the exhibition staff. They were married in August 1952 and had three children. From 1951 to 1955 he worked as Assistant Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

He then got a job as a Visualiser at Robert Brandon & Partners Ltd., an advertising agency in Piccadilly, where he dealt with press advertising. He later went on to become the Art Director there. At the beginning of the 1960s he worked for various photographic studios and advertising agencies and finally in 1963 as graphic designer and typographer for the COI (Central Office of Information), the UK government’s marketing and communications agency. In 1971 he left his job in London and started working from home as a freelance graphic designer producing government advertising for the Army, the Navy and the COI .

His daytime job didn’t leave much space for his creative outlet and he was obliged to work at night, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. In the course of his lifetime he produced a very great number of oil paintings, water colours and drawings, today in private collections and mostly in possession of his heirs. His favourite subjects were landscapes, still lifes and the female figure. He was influenced above all by artists like Paul Gauguin, Amedeo Modigliani, Gustav Klimt and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Strong was his bond with the village of Buriton in Hampshire, where he moved with his family in 1961 and where he was to spend the rest of his life. Among his many works there are numerous views of the local countryside and of some of the most important places of interest in the area, among which Nursted House, Buriton Manor House and the parish church of St Mary’s. He illustrated one of the first history books about the parish, written by his wife in 1976 [1].

He was a teenager when he originally started writing, initially short stories and between the 1970s and 1990s also poetry; a collection of some of his poems was published in 2000 in a book entitled The Seasons Round [2].

He spent the last years of his life continuing to paint and to experiment with different styles. He died on 1st January 2011 in Portsmouth, at the age of 84. He is buried in the cemetery of St Mary's church in Buriton.


  1. Elizabeth des Brisay, A History of Buriton, drawings by Lewis des Brisay. First edition: 1976. Reprint: April 2015 by Junius des Brisay, Paul Martin and Doug Jones
  2. Lewis des Brisay, The Seasons Round, Petersfield, Andromeda, 2000

External links

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