Lot 43
  • 43

Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)

150,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Francis Newton Souza
  • Nude
  • Signed and dated 'Souza 56' upper left

  • Oil on board
  • 48 by 24 in. (121.9 by 61 cm.)

Catalogue Note

Throughout his life Souza painted female nudes in many forms; at the beginning of his career his figurative works appear to have been influenced by South Indian bronzes and the voluptuous forms of classical Indian temple carving but on his move to London he increasingly absorbed more European influences.  It has been suggested that Spanish Romanesque art inspired his iconic stances and frontal compositions, but the linear form of the current nude seems to owe more to the Picasso nudes of the 1930's.

Like the nudes of Manet, Picasso and Rouault, Souza's nudes go beyong the boundaries of convention.   The woman's confident gaze unnerves the viewer, both acknowledging her blatant sexuality and vulnerability.  'F N. Souza is concerned with two main themes; religion (suffering) and sex (pleasure).  In opposition they comprise the essence of the human and the divine predicament, the dilemma of man in the mid 20th Century Christian century.' (Mervyn Levy, Interview with F. N. Souza, Studio, International Art Magazine, April 1964).

Souza recollects as a child watching his mother bathe.  'My Mother was like the mother of Oedipus; spartan in shape.  She was temperamentally unpredictable and very sophisticated.  I used to watch her bathe herself through a hole I had bored in the door.  I was afraid that if she thrust something in, I might get a bleeding eye-ball.  I drew her on the walls and prudes thought I was rude.  I can't see why because as far as I can recollect I had even painted murals on the walls of her womb...In the act of being created I created.  (F. N. Souza, Words and Lines, 1997, p. 25).