• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5389

    20th Century British Art

    16 July 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 61

    Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)

    The Echo of the Bombardment

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)
    The Echo of the Bombardment
    signed and dated 'Keith Vaughan 1942' (lower right)
    watercolour, black ink and coloured crayon
    12½ x 18¼ in. (31.8 x 46.4 cm.)


    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

    Vaughan responded to the urban devastation wrought by the air raids of the early 1940s with a series of drawings and gouaches which he collectively titled Destruction of the Human City. One of the most elaborate of these, Devastation (ii) of 1943 is reproduced in Malcolm Yorke's book (see M. Yorke, Keith Vaughan his Life and Work, London, 1990, pl. 1, half-title).
    In it, amid the burning buildings and naked dispossessed people, the foreground is dominated by a huge coiled and twisted shape, like some malevolent science fiction monster, but surely in fact derived from an instrument of salvation, the fire hose. Vaughan wrote an interpretation of this monstrous shape, and of the weird conical creatures, like wasp tails, peering out of windows, characterising them as representing the primitive life force asserting continuity even in the midst of physical destruction. The present work, while depopulated and much less violent, is closely related and features the same coiled debris and the waspish cones in the shattered windows. It is a powerful surrealistic evocation of the random malignancy of modern warfare, a theme that Vaughan returns to again and again in his writings.

    J.B.

    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.


    Provenance

    with The American British Art Center, Inc., 1946, where acquired by the present owner's father.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that VAT is payable at 5.001 on the hammer price and 17.5 on the buyer's premium on this lot and it should be marked with a star in the catalogue. Please also that the work is inscribed and dated 'The Echo of the Bombardment/1942' (on the reverse)