Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)
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Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)

Soldiers in a Wood

Details
Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)
Soldiers in a Wood
signed 'Keith Vaughan' (lower right)
ink, watercolour, gouache and pastel
5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 7.8 cm.)
Executed in 1943.
Provenance
with Hamet Gallery, London, where purchased by Mr Wright Ludington, October 1971.
with Agnew's, London.
Literature
K. Vaughan, Journal and Drawings: 1939-1965, London, 1966, p. 69, illustrated.
Exhibited
Santa Barbara, Museum of Art, English and American Drawings, September - October 1973, catalogue not traced.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Lot Essay

For much of the war Vaughan was stationed at Eden Camp, near Malton, in Yorkshire. Army life precluded him setting up a functioning studio in his barracks and, as a consequence, he was unable to work with canvas and oils. Instead he produced a series of small, intense gouaches combined with various mixed media, including wax crayons and Indian ink. He recorded daily life in the army and the landscape around him. In the present work his platoon is engaged in some sort of land clearing activity.

At first sight, Soldiers in a Wood appears to be a fine example of Neo-Romantic, war-time painting. The dark, brooding atmosphere, the woodland setting, and the association of man and nature are all characteristic qualities of that peculiarly British tendency. However, Vaughan later re-worked this piece significantly. An illustration, in its original form, appears in K. Vaughan, Journal and Drawings: 1939-1965 (London, 1966, p. 69). The monochromatic pen and ink drawing, with additional ink washes, was drastically altered in the later 1960s. The artist added all the present colour washes (the cream-coloured foreground, the ultramarine patch in the middle distance and the brown and green gouache and pastel sections). The result is a tighter, more pictorial effect.

Despite this, Vaughan’s original conception, for the most part, is characteristic of his war work. It was a time of ‘make do’ and he confined himself to what could be squeezed into his knapsack: a few bottles of ink, some tubes of gouache and a selection of wax crayons. By combining these simple materials he was able to create surprisingly diverse ranges of tones and variations of hues.

We are grateful to Gerard Hastings, author of Drawing to a Close: The Final Journals of Keith Vaughan (Pagham Press) and Keith Vaughan the Photographs (Pagham Press), for preparing this catalogue entry.
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