Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)
- Francis Newton Souza
- Landscape with Tree
- Signed and dated 'Souza 56' lower left and signed, dated and inscribed 'F. N. SOUZA/ LANDSCAPE WITH TREE/ 1956' on reverse
- Oil on board
- 47 3/4 by 23 3/4 in. (121.3 by 60.3 cm.)
When Souza arrived in London in July 1949, in an interview he said, 'I arrived at Tilbury Docks in London on August 8th, 1949. I was astonished by the grimness of England. Here was the country that was running, only a few years back, an Empire encircling three quarters of the globe, yet there was no joy in it. There was rationing until 1954.' Although by 1956 he was emerging as an important figure in art and literary circles, for seven years prior he had weathered not only the pinching effects of a war that had taken its toll on English life in general, but also his personal poverty until 1955 when he received his first one-man show at Gallery One, which sold out to critical acclaim.
In this winter landscape, we see not only the grey sky of winter but also the starkness of Souza's first (and perhaps lasting) impressions of a grim-faced country made stoic by the effects of World War II. His tree is not laid bare by the season. Its secondary branches with their spiked tendrils scratched into the masonite, claw into the sky like Struwwelpeter's long, unruly fingers. In the background a solitary building, serves more as a device to separate sky from earth, blue from brown, than a building to be occupied by humans. There is a sense of having stumbled onto a foresaken stretch of land where time has stopped at winter, with no hope of spring's warmth to thaw the ground or lighten the air. (Shelley Souza, 2007).
Shelley Souza is co-administrator for the artist's estate and a trustee of the Francis Newton Souza Foundation.