Lot 4
  • 4

George Keyt

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • George Keyt
  • Untitled (Man, Woman and Child)
  • Signed and dated 'G Keyt / 46' lower right
  • Oil on canvas
  • 114.5 x 85.2 cm. (45 ¼ x 33 ½ in.)
  • Painted in 1946


Property from a private English collector

Sotheby's New York, 19 March 2008, lot 1

Catalogue Note

George Keyt is arguably Sri Lanka's best known modernist painter who with fellow artists from the '43 Group, staged one of the first exhibitions of Modernism in South Asia and inspired the Bombay Progressives a few years later. In 1946, Keyt came to India, a place that was to become his beloved spiritual home. There, he was largely inspired by his surroundings and the traditions that he observed. As is the case in this work, his paintings were often sensuous depictions of rural women in rustic settings, demonstrating his strong affinity with country life. He also was inspired by Hindu and Buddhist epics which he modernised in his unique Cubist style. 'The experience of once again living in India, the India to which in spirit he has always belonged, induced him to re-explore his favourite subject... he employed all his resources, springing line, rhythmical form and glowing colour, to imbue his subjects with innocent sensuality and poetic charm.' (W.G. Archer, India and Modern Indian Art, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1959, p. 135)

While he was inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, his painting was not merely an adoption of western art movements. “His distinction has been to assimilate such Western influences, while remaining unmistakably Eastern- a process all the more natural in that Western Art had first assimilated certain Eastern influences”, wrote Sir Herbert Read. (George Keyt: A Centennial Anthology, The George Keyt Foundation, Colombo, 2001, p. x). This is exemplified in his unique style, borrowing from both cubism and classical Hindu sculpture. Meanwhile, his skillful use of colour creates a dramatic image, which, as the renowned Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda once noted, was what made him “the living nucleus of a great painter” (W.G. Archer, ibid, p. 124.).