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Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)
Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)

Nude with Fruit

Details
Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)
Nude with Fruit
signed and dated 'Souza 58' (upper right); signed, titled and dated 'F.N. SOUZA NUDE WITH FRUIT 1958' (on the reverse); bearing City of Bradford Art Gallery label (on the reverse)
Oil on board
48 x 36in. (121.9 x 91.5cm.)
Painted in 1958
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Exhibited
Detroit, London Arts Gallery, Francis Newton Souza, 1970.

Lot Essay

This magnificent nude by Francis Newton Souza possesses a tranquility and economy of line rarely seen in the artist's oeuvre. Souza's works often posess a kinetic quality as forms dissolve into masses of shapes and lines, however, in Nude with Fruit, the artist shows remarkable restraint creating one of his most sublime depictions of the female form. Upon closer inspection, the work appears to be almost a treatise on painting, incorporating each of the traditional classes of subject matter in art, the portrait, the landscape and the still life. Souza has been quoted as saying he never used preliminary drawings for his works, however this work seems to find stylistic precursors in the drawing at left. It seems as if this subject was one which the artist carefully considered, reworking the composition until he had perfected it. According to Shelley Souza, the artist's daughter, inspiration for this painting might have been found in the work of the Venetian Renaissance painter Titian. "Although on the surface my fathers painting bears no resemblance to Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, (1514), I believe the connection is made through the elements my father chooses to employ in his composition, outside the window, a fortified town with church steeples rising prominently above the town wall." (Correspondence, 20 July 2007)
In Titian's painting, church and town appear seperately on either side of the landscape. Mullins writes, "the meaning of the spire appears to be both phallic and holy at the same time." If that is true, Souza emphasizes this three times, with three spires. (E.Mullins, Souza, London, 1962). "When I look at my father's nude she is both erotic and holy; she is mother, virgin, lover and wife." - Shelley Souza, July 20, 2007.

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