This important large-scale portrait was produced a year after Souza was selected as one of five painters to represent Great Britain in the Guggenheim International Award.
The format of the monumental head and torso painted against a plain background was one that Souza often used. The composition draws from religious portraiture and was a format that was adopted by Renaissance artists such as Titian, whose works Souza would have seen first hand at the National Gallery in London. The angular elongated facial features are influenced by Byzantine art and the fabric of her dress is clearly derived from the patterns seen on liturgical vestments.
'The importance of Francis Newton Souza the young Goan painter who has settled in London is that he has resolved the dilemma of style as no other modern Indian artist has done. He has crossed Indian bazaar painting with the Picasso style... to produce a manner that is at once individual and consistent and which might be said to suggest a caricature of a Byzantine icon.' (Sylvester, 1957.)
In 1962 Edwin Mullins also compared Souza to Picasso stating 'with his finest paintings the concentrated passion with which they were created may seem to burn over the canvas, yet the nature of the passion is less easy to place. They are full of apparent contradictions: agony wit, pathos and satire, aggression and pity. Their impact is certain but few people are able to explain what has hit them. Like Picasso, too, his interventions have tended to be thought outrageous, because the imagination that created them was discovering something about the visual world which no one as yet understood or which everyone had forgotten.' (Mullins, 1962, p. 37.)
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