Lot 1021
  • 1021

Keith Vaughan

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
27,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Keith Vaughan
  • Ruins of a Castle
  • signed; titled, dated 1955 and inscribed on a label attached to the backboard
  • oil on board
  • 24 by 45cm.; 9½ by 17¾in.


Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, August 1967
Sotheby's, London, 2 June 2004, lot 77
Coughton Galleries, Market Harborough


New York, Durlacher Bros., Keith Vaughan: Paintings and Gouaches, 1 - 26 October 1957, cat. no.26;
Oxford, Bear Lane Gallery, Prints and Paintings of Oxfordshire, 3 - 26 August 1967, un-numbered exhibition.


Anthony Hepworth and Ian Massey, Keith Vaughan: The Mature Oils 1946-1977, Sansom & Company Ltd., Bristol, 2012, cat. no.AH200, illustrated p.94.

Catalogue Note

We might be forgiven for considering this scene, on first sight, to be an abstract composition. As ever with Vaughan, all his forms are derived from observation and then filtered and reduced into a formal visual language. His focus is on the textural stonework of the castle ruins at the left and how it contrasts with the geometrical blocked-in forms at the right. The organization of the pictorial elements, such as the dark window and the squared-off walls, is typical of his oil paintings at this time. These are placed against more organic elements, such as the pollarded tree forms in the distance and the dark, shrub-like foreground shapes at the right. Vaughan commented about his approach to harmonizing abstract and figurative qualities in his work:

I don’t attach any great merit to the subject. Indeed, what the subject of one’s painting is, is very arbitrary and beside the point. I tend, in my own sense, to relate my painting very much more to music, to make something that sounds right, that goes together, that fits, which has a sort of unity and harmony and total resolution about it. I think that, if you succeed in doing that, in no matter what medium, you automatically make some sort of comment on the human situation. The mere fact that one is doing semi-recognisable landscapes does not really matter very much. One might just as well be dealing with abstract forms, except that in my case I don’t happen to feel that way. (Interview with Tony Carter, 1963).

Often considered to be a painter of the figure in a landscape, Vaughan produced an enormous number of pure landscape paintings. In 1954 he made a journey to Ireland, cycling round Kerry and Cork and then, later that year, he headed to the North of England and the Scottish borders, filling his sketchbooks with drawings as he went. In 1955, the year he painted Ruins of a Castle, he journeyed to Dorset and on to Cornwall. He revisited the dales and moors of Yorkshire and, though it is not possible to identify this castle for certain, the composition does resemble an oil painting of Pickering Castle that Vaughan painted in 1956. On each of these visits he made drawings, sketches and notations of features in landscapes that might support a painting.  On his return to his studio in London, he set about making gouache and oil paintings from his sketchbooks, including the present work. In the same year Vaughan also produced an oil painting depicting Richmond castle (see Richmond in Yorkshire, 1955). 

We are grateful to Gerard Hastings, author of Drawing to a Close: The Final Journals of Keith Vaughan (Pagham Press, 2012) and Keith Vaughan the Photographs (Pagham Press, 2013), for compiling these notes.