3 April 2019
Francis Newton Souza (Indian 1924–2002), Street scene with two houses and a tree
Sold Price £48000
Francis Newton Souza (Indian 1924-2002)
Street scene with two houses and a tree
Gouache and graphite on paper
Signed and dated 1954 lower centre
56 x 38cm (22 x 14¾ in.)
Private Collection, UK (acquired circa 1950/60s)
Thence by descent to the present owner
Souza was a founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group founded in 1947. Whilst the group lacked a singular style, it advocated the synthesis of traditional Indian artistic traditions into the wider international art scene and, in particular, the western European and American avant-garde. Souza's first exhibition in London was in 1948 at Burlington House. The following year, he moved to London where he initially struggled to make an impact, relying instead on journalism to make ends meet. However, in 1954, the ICA included his work in an exhibition and the following year, as a result of a meeting with Victor Musgrave of Gallery One, a one-man show at the gallery sold out and Souza was on the road to success.
The present work is interesting as, dating from 1954, it lies on the cusp of that critical acclaim. A typical spiky tree takes centre stage between the tall buildings. Souza is perhaps best known for his crucifixes and nudes although landscapes and still life painting also remained a constantly recurring theme in his life.