• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7595

    20th Century British Art

    6 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 67

    Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)

    Group of figures

    Price Realised  


    Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)
    Group of figures
    oil on board
    40 x 36 in. (101.6 x 91.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1961.

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    Vaughan perhaps reached the height of his achievement in painting figures in landscape in the early 1960s, with pictures in which all the elements of the composition work on the same plane. Previously, the figures had tended to be grouped like actors in front of the backdrop of the landscape, a tendency which to some extent had resulted from the ease in which he could abstract landscape elements compared with the human body. A vital part of this development is the way in which the human forms themselves become more abstracted by being locked together in groups, so that the pictorial energy flows around and through them, binding them, as it were, to their landscape. He said he wanted to maintain an enigmatic poise between the figures, with deliberate ambiguity about individual identities. The present painting is the first in which he felt he successfully attained this poise. A marginally later picture, again painted in 1961 and closely related to the present work, August 4th Bather is in the collection of Tate, London (fig. 1).

    The years following 1961 brought forth further elaboration of this fusion of figures, notably in the magnificent Eighth Assembly of Figures from 1964, in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Of these paintings from 1961-64, one critic especially admired the way in which 'they make their meaning clear at twenty feet', the luminous 'speaking' across wide space, so charactersitic of the best of Vaughan.


    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Purchased by the present owner for £300.


    London, Whitechapel Gallery, Keith Vaughan Retrospective, March - April 1962, no. 292.