PROPERTY OF A LADY
FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA
1924 - 2002
BELSIZE PARK LONDON
Oil on board. Signed and dated 'Souza 64' upper right. Further signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'F.N. Souza / BELSIZE PARK / LONDON - 1964 / OIL ON BOARD' on reverse
8 ½ x 19 in. (21.6 x 48.1 cm.)
Framed: 10 ¼ x 20 ½ (26 x 52.1 cm.)
Painted in 1964
There is very minor wear along the edges and corners. This work is in very good condition, as viewed.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Acquired directly from the artist
Raised a Catholic in Goa, Francis Newton Souza moved to England in 1949 shortly after his establishment of the Progressive Artist's Group. In 1960, he was awarded a scholarship by the Italian Government, enabling him to study and travel to many European cities, including Rome, Madrid, and Amsterdam. This mixture of influences formed the framework for his compositions during this time. European churches – as well as the stained-glass windows of Goa – constituted inspirations for Souza. The current lots, painted in 1964, mark an interesting admixture of styles: on the one hand, they are suffused with the colorful influences of Souza’s earlier period when he painted in Goa; concomitantly, their disjointed depiction of buildings and churches demonstrate the impact of Souza’s time in Europe after 1949. Concurrently the use of black outlines to separate the buildings also reveals the influence of the stained glass windows in the Roman Catholic churches of Goa as well as the churches that he visited in Europe during his travels. By incorporating the spiritual influences of his childhood within these cubist and abstracted compositions, Souza created a body of work where religion and Modernity co-exist.
The powdered blue and white sky (lot 1824) and red and white (lot 1825) is in constant flux and tension, highlighting Souza’s gestural application of paint and juxtaposing the sharp lines and abstraction of the structures below it. Indeed, Souza’s landscapes of the 1960s appear chaotic in their compositions and marked a departure from the sentimental and bucolic scenes that the artist painted in the preceding decades. Art historian Yashodhara Dalmia describes the progression in Souza’s work as follows - 'Souza’s landscapes seem to be driven by a cataclysmic force, which wreaks havoc. Most of these cityscapes following, at first, a simple rectilinear structure, which later, in the 1960s, gives way to an apocalyptic vision. The tumbling houses in their frenzied movement are also symbolic of all things falling apart, of the very root of things being shaken.' (Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001, p. 93) Despite the apparent angst of these early cityscapes there is also an evident joy in the use of thick oils applied liberally to the board, with layers of color built upon one another and then merged together with swift strokes of the brush or knife. Edwin Mullins states that Souza has 'succeeded in creating images which are entirely personal, yet recognizable at the same time. They are often distorted to the point of destruction - houses no more than lopsided cubes...but they never threaten to dissolve into formalized abstract shapes. The violence and speed with which they were executed keep these images, however distorted, in touch with the painter's vision of what they really are.' (E. Mullins, Souza, Anthony Blond Ltd., London, 1962, p. 37)
As the titles of the works indicate, they capture Souza’s immediate surroundings of Belsize Park and Hampstead Heath in North London where he lived in the 1950s and 1960s.