Lot 26
  • 26

Leon Kossoff

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Leon Kossoff
  • Dalston Junction No.3, June 1973
  • oil on board
  • 20.5 by 25cm.; 8 by 10in.


Fischer Fine Art, London, where acquired by Dr Sidney Charles Lewsen, 1974
Acquired by David Bowie in March 1995


The board appears sound. There are one or two tiny lines of extremely fine craquelure apparent in the top left corner, only visible upon extremely close inspection. There is some slight flattening to some of the impasto tips. There is some light surface dirt and a few specks of matter and studio detritus. Subject to the above, the work appears to be in excellent overall condition. Ultraviolet light reveals some small areas of fluorescence in the upper and lower left corners, which appear to be in keeping with the artist's materials. The work is float mounted and presented within a simple wooden 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

Like Bowie, Leon Kossoff was a child of London. Born in Shoreditch to first generation eastern European immigrants, the chaotic East-End formed the backdrop to his childhood. The city has become his life-long subject and he has rarely left it, the only exceptions being as an evacuee and during his overseas military service from 1945-8. As he admits: 'London, like the paint I use, seems to be in my bloodstream' (the Artist, XLVI Venice Biennale, Leon Kossoff: Recent Paintings, 1995, (exh. cat.), p.17). Kossoff is not drawn to the capital’s glamour; rather, like Walter Sickert before him, it is the real city of ordinary people and overlooked vistas which preoccupy him: ‘the kind of landscapes that many people would hesitate to regard as “scenic” but that carry their own rough loveliness’ (the Artist, in an interview with Charlotte Higgins, April 2013). Moving from the East End to Willesden, he has painted those neighbourhoods familiar to him, creating a visual record of memories and experiences on different days and in different lights.

This work depicts an area that deeply resonated with Kossoff, a view of the rail tracks looking towards Dalston Junction observed from his Dalston studio between 1972-75. The train-lines of London, representing the city’s industrial rhythms, are a familiar feature of his landscapes. Kossoff, who painted this scene on multiple occasions, captures, with tremendous energy, a fleeting moment in time on a cloudy June day in 1973. Through a restricted palette of rich colour harmonies, rapidly applied brush strokes, dabs and dribbles of pigment, the surface of this work, which will have been worked and re-worked, comes alive before us. Out of the grimy light, the train-line stretches into the distance only to be submerged by a dense network of houses which sprawl chaotically across the work. Yet amongst them Kossoff reveals the hidden corners behind walls and unexpected spots of greenery whilst conveying the unseen presence of city-dwellers playing out their lives. This ordinary scene transforms into an evocative visual rendition, communicating the delight of Kossoff’s experience of this familiar view. It was this personal and emotional response to a place that Kossoff wished to recreate in his work rather than an actual representation of the reality of the scene. Kossoff attributes these innovations in painting to Bomberg whose now famous class at the Borough Polytechnic he attended alongside fellow London school painter Frank Auerbach: ‘although I had painted most of my life it was through my contact with Bomberg that I felt I might actually function as a painter. Coming to Bomberg’s class was like coming home’ (the Artist, quoted in Paul Moorhouse, Leon Kossoff (exh. cat.), London, Tate, 1996, p.36).