• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2270

    South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    19 March 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1032

    FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924-2002)

    Portrait of H.K. (Harold Kovner)

    Price Realised  

    FRANCIS NEWTON SOUZA (1924-2002)
    Portrait of H.K. (Harold Kovner)
    signed 'Souza 71' (upper left); signed, inscribed, titled and dated 'F.N. SOUZA PORTRAIT OF H.K. (HAROLD KOVNER) 1971 oil on canvas-board 20 x 24' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas board
    24 1/8 x 20 in. (61.3 x 50.8 cm.)
    Painted in 1971


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    I am now working in Paris under the patronage of an American millionaire the money I receive from my patron is somewhat glove tight but it is a velvet glove.-Francis Newton Souza

    Once again, renouncing the black line and thereby emphasizing color Souza underscores his ability to paint lines without using the principle of the contour. Harold Kovner, an American art collector, was introduced to Souza in 1956 at Iris Clert's gallery in Paris, and for the next four years he served as Souza's most stable patron. The two men agreed to a relationship wherein Souza would receive an allowance in exchange for four canvases a month. The relationship between artist and benefactor recalled an earlier age of patronage, and it allowed Souza to devote his resources and time to painting what he wished. By the time Souza painted the effigy of Kovner in 1971, the monthly allowance had long stopped. However, it seems appropriate that Souza would resurrect one of his greatest patrons and supporters during a moment of creative bliss. The painting's structure is composed of strokes that loop, ring, swoop and jitter creating a thick impasto delineated with layers upon layers of straight color. Reminiscent of Van Gogh's intimate portraits of his friend and patron, the postman, Joseph Roulin, Souza's portrait of Harold Kovner seeks to render the character not in likeness of the subject but in the sensation of pure color and is ultimately a celebration of an individual so entwined with Souza's own success.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from The Estate of F.N. Souza