Lot 18
  • 18

Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Francis Newton Souza
  • Still Life
  • Signed and dated 'Souza 55' upper right and signed, dated and inscribed 'Still Life 1955/ F. N. SOUZA' on reverse
  • Oil on board
  • 38 3/4 by 29 1/2 in. (98.5 by 75 cm.)

Catalogue Note

This work forms part of a series of religious still lifes that Souza produced in the mid 1950s. For a detailed discussion on the series, see lot 16. The current work painted a few years prior to lot 16 is composed with fewer decorative elements and a darker pallete. Each object is created in thick black lines enclosing one tone of color, a structure that associates it even more closely with the stained  glass tradition.  

The striking composition combines Souza's fascination with Roman Catholic imagery with a bold modernist approach.  The strength of the work is that it appears to be the combination of several genres that were important to the artist. 'The importance of Francis Newton Souza the young Goan painter who has settled in London is that he has resolved the dilemma of style as no other modern Indian artist has done. He has crossed Indian bazaar painting with the Picasso style ...to produce a manner that is at once individual and consistent and which might be said to suggest a caricature of a Byzantine icon.' (David Sylvester, "A Goan Painter," New Statesman, 14 December 1957). 

In 1962 Edwin Mullins also compared Souza to Picasso stating 'with his finest paintings …the concentrated passion with which they were created may seem to burn over the canvas, yet the nature of the passion is less easy to place. They are full of apparent contradictions: agony wit, pathos and satire, aggression and pity. Their impact is certain but few people are able to explain what has hit them. Like Picasso, too, his interventions have tended to be thought outrageous, because the imagination that created them was discovering something about the visual world which no one as yet understood or which everyone had forgotten.’ (Edwin Mullins, F. N. Souza, London, 1962, p. 37).