Lot 11
  • 11

Christopher Wood

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
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  • Christopher Wood
  • Lilies in a Decorated Bowl
  • oil and pencil on canvas

  • 46 by 55cm.; 18 by 21½in.
  • Executed in 1928.


Redfern Gallery, London
W.B. Henderson, Esq.
Jonathan Clark Fine Art, London, where acquired by the present owner in 2002


London, New Burlington Galleries, Christopher Wood, 3rd March - 2nd April 1938, cat. no.73;
London, Redfern Gallery, Christopher Wood, The First Retrospective Exhibition since 1938, 1st April - 8th May 1959, cat. no.29.
London, Redfern Gallery, Christopher Wood 1901 - 1930, November 1965, cat. no.31.


Eric Newton, Christopher Wood, Redfern Gallery, London, 1938, cat. no.287.


Not examined out of the frame. Original canvas. The canvas undulates slightly at the left and right edges, but otherwise appears sound. There are some extremely minor fine lines of craquelure to a few isolated areas, including to the centre of the extreme left edge, only visible on extremely close inspection. One or two of the impasto tips have been slightly flattened and there is a tiny loss to the leaf at the upper left. There is some minor frame abrasion visible to the extreme corners and to the lower and right edges. Subject to the above, the work appears to be in overall very good condition. Examination under UV light reveals some flecks of retouching, which have been sensitively executed to scattered areas of the composition, most particularly to the extreme edges, the cigarette packet and the vase. The work is presented in an ornate carved 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

We are grateful to Robert Upstone, who is preparing the forthcoming Christopher Wood catalogue raisonné, for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.

1928 was an important year within Wood’s life, travelling extensively between Britain and France, he showed as part of the Seven & Five Society, at the Beaux Arts Gallery and later alongside Cedric Morris and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska at the Claridge Gallery. Having established himself as an artist in the London and Parisian art scenes, he divided much of the year between time spent in London, with Ben and Winifred Nicholson at their home Banks Head, in Paris and later in the year at Cornwall, with further shorter visits to his mother’s Wiltshire home, Reddish House, later the home of Cecil Beaton. All this travel was to impact the confidently developing style in which the artist worked, and the year produced some of his most important paintings within his career, in particular still life and flower compositions.

Although he had long since favoured floral compositions, they took on a particular and renewed significance for the artist in 1928, when, early in the year, he stayed with Ben and Winifred Nicholson at Banks Head. Here Wood would observe Winifred at work, capturing the flowers and embodying them with a terrific sense of movement and life. In April of that year Wood returned to Paris, to act as a witness in a court case relating to a car accident that he had been involved in four years earlier. With his return to Paris he fell back into the hedonistic lifestyle that England, and Banks Head in particular, had offered him an escape from. In Paris he spent time with his close friends Tony Gandarillas and Jean Cocteau, and as a result returned to his dependence on the drug opium, then highly popular within the European artistic circuit.

Narcotics had long been a dominant presence within the artist’s earlier life, and once again returned to prominence, seen through the popular depiction of pipes and cigarettes within his paintings of the period, including Flowers on a Chair with Pipe and Paper (sold in these rooms as part of the collection of Lord & Lady Attenborough, 11th November 2009), executed the same year as the present work. At the centre of the present composition sits three or four stems of loosely gathered lilies in a French-style earthenware decorated vase. Wood’s palette differs from the light, airy tones of his earlier composition, Anemones in a Glass Jar (lot 7), and instead is bold and semi-saturated, owing to the fact that the work may well have been painted from life under an overhead bulb in the artist’s studio. The background yellow is applied in a bold, confident style, indebted clearly to the French master van Gogh (seen here in the radiating brushwork around the base of the vase) whose work Wood had seen from his earliest days in Paris. Lilies in a Decorated Bowl displays Wood’s brilliance in capturing the still life subject – painted by an artist at the peak of his career, and made all the more resonant by his tragic suicide only two years later.