Lot 23
  • 23

Leon Kossoff

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Leon Kossoff
  • Willesden Junction
  • charcoal and chalk
  • 68 by 122.5cm.; 26¾ by 48¼in.
  • Executed circa 1962.


Gifted by the Artist to the parents of the present owner in the mid 1960s


The sheet is not laid down, but is adhered to the backboard via two hinge strips. The sheet has been folded along the bottom edge. The sheet has been extensively worked by the Artist, in keeping with his technique and style, and has unevenly cut edges, with pin holes visible to the corners and extreme edges, and some slight traces of resultant loss in these areas visible upon close inspection. There is a small spot of loss in the upper right hand corner; an 'n' shaped tear in the lower right corner; two noticeable vertical creases to the centre of the sheet; an area of possible in-filling to the paper in the top left corner and a further spot of loss in the upper left quadrant. There is a further area of minor loss to the centre of the lower edge. Again, these are all in keeping with the nature of the Artist's techniques and materials and are inherent to the piece. These excepting the work appears in very good overall condition, with strong, fresh passages of charcoal throughout. Housed behind glass in a thin light pine wood frame. Unexamined out of frame. Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

‘The London of my memory is not the real city I live in today. Sometimes now it seems like a monster  that draws you into its complicated inside. Yet, though changing all the time, its particular location- the river, the hills, the proximity to the sea- seems always present, and the millions of people who have spent their lives passing through its streets and travelling along its underground veins make London, like my studio, a place of chaos, providing an opportunity for continual involvement and activity' (The Artist, quoted in Leon Kossoff: Recent Paintings, XLVI Venice Biennale, Amsterdam, 1995, p.10).

Beginning in the 1950s and continuing throughout his long career, Leon Kossoff has repeatedly explored the intimate characteristics of his immediate surroundings and focused his gaze upon the ordinary places that form part of his everyday experience. Continually returning to paint the familiar London scenes around his home, the lively stations, flower stalls, churches and the North London railway, Kossoff's work is enlivened by a tangible and wholly unique sense of familiarity with its subject, capturing the private face of long-lived experience in an active metropolis. Although he frequently returns to paint the same scene twice, the changing mood, light, and the passage of the seasons, all of which he is so acutely aware, prevent him from wandering into the realms of repetition. 

His well-rehearsed capturing of the hustle and bustle of London life is brilliantly realized in Willesden Junction- part of a series of paintings and drawings began in 1962 which examine a particular vantage point looking down onto the tangled tracks of the north London railway. Kossoff was intimately acquainted with the scene, as his studio was at the time in Willesden Junction, and he lived just a few miles from the station. The work is a full and mature composition that seems to writhe under the energies of the thickly applied charcoal and chalk markings that describe it, the paper itself thoroughly worked. Viewed from above, the tracks funnel towards the high rises in the distance, slicing like a river through the urban landscape. Willesden Junction is an exemplary drawing from the series, revealing the best of Kossoff's long term artistic engagement with London’s metropolis.