Lot 8
  • 8

Christopher Wood

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Christopher Wood
  • Girl with Cigarette 
  • oil on canvas
  • 92 by 73cm.; 36¼ by 28¾in.
  • Executed in 1927.


The New Art Centre, London, where acquired by the previous owner, August 1982
Acquired by the present owner in 2009


London, Redfern Gallery, Christopher Wood, November 1965, cat. no.87.


Original canvas. The canvas undulates very slightly in places, but otherwise appears sound. There are some extremely minor, fine lines of reticulation and craquelure in places, visible upon very close inspection. There is a very tiny fleck of loss to a spot of black pigment to the fence, just below the circle above the figure's left hand. There are some small, old flecks of loss visible along the lower horizontal edge of the work, with some slight infilling visible. Subject to the above, the work appears to be in very good overall condition. Ultraviolet light reveals four spots of retouching: one to the top of the figure's left arm, one to the right side of her face and hair, one above the figure's head, and one in the upper right quadrant. These have all been very sensitively executed. The work is presented in an ornate moulded frame, with a linen slip. 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 many a young and aspiring artist in the early part of the twentieth century Christopher Wood escaped the British art scene and headed for Paris, arriving in March 1921, and beginning what was to remain a life-long love affair with the French capital. As a largely inexperienced and untrained artist Wood stayed first with the influential collector and wealthy financier Alphonse Kahn on the Avenue du Bois-de-Boulogne and soon enrolled at the prestigious Académie Julian, alongside life classes with the portraitist Adrien Drian. Eight months later he wrote to his mother back in England, proclaiming ‘Dearest Mother, you ask me what I am going to do: I have decided to try and be the best painter that has ever lived.’ (Christopher Wood, quoted in Richard Ingleby, Christopher Wood: An English Painter, Allison & Busby, London, 1995, p.13). It was not long after arriving that he met the Chilean diplomat José Antonio de Gandarillas, who in turn introduced him to all the delights that the capital had to offer. Together they travelled Europe with Wood falling under the spell and hedonistic influences of the wealthy Gandarillas, and it was to be through the diplomat’s aunt, Eugenia Errázuriz that the Artist first met Picasso in 1923. Through Picasso, and his contemporary the poet and artist Jean Cocteau, Wood was assimilated into the very heart of the Parisian art scene – one which abounded with free-flowing sexual attitudes as well as opium.

Much has been written of Wood’s apparent bisexuality, including in the recent retrospective held at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, and Wood was known to have had relationships with both sexes, including, in 1926, with Jeanne Bourgoint, the likely sitter for the present work. Bourgoint, together with her brother Jean, provided the inspiration for the siblings in Cocteau’s 1929 Les Enfants Terribles, and were an important presence within the Paris scene in the late 1920s. Wood painted both siblings between 1926 and 1929, including Boy with Cat (Jean Bourgoint) (1926, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge) and Mlle Bourgoint (1929, University of Essex), with the latter portrait displaying the same stark, sleek confidence as the present composition. The sitter’s hairstyles – cut short into a stylish bob and Modigliani-esque almond-shaped eyes – display a coolness that in the present composition is well-matched with the Parisian skyline visible beyond. Almost certainly painted at the window of Wood’s Paris studio it bears striking similarity to one of Wood’s most celebrated compositions, his Self-Portrait of 1927 (Fig. 1, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge). There is a bold confidence in both sitters, with the paintbrush held in Wood’s right hand mirrored by the cigarette held in the right hand of the woman. As with Self-Portrait, which was the highlight of Wood’s 1927 Beaux Arts Gallery exhibition in London, Girl With Cigarette draws us into the Paris of the 1920s, displaying the cool confidence and technical prowess of a young artist at the height of his career.