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Christopher Wood (1901-1930)
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Christopher Wood (1901-1930)

Church and Market, Brittany

Details
Christopher Wood (1901-1930)
Church and Market, Brittany
oil on board
22¾ x 32 in. (57.8 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted in 1930.
There is an inscription 'Painted by my son Christopher Wood 1930/Clara D. Wood' (on the reverse)
Provenance
Clara Wood, the artist's mother.
H.S. (Jim) Ede.
Literature
E. Newton, Christopher Wood, London, 1938, no. 436.
Exhibited
London, Redfern Gallery, New Burlington Galleries, Christopher Wood The Complete Works, March - April 1938, no. 111.
Colchester, The Minories, Arts Council of Great Britain, Christopher Wood, March - April 1979, no. 57, as 'Church and Market, Tréboul': this exhibition travelled to Durham, D.L.I. Museum and Arts Centre; Aberdeen, Art Gallery; Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery, and Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
Penzance, Newlyn Art Gallery, Christopher Wood The Last Years, October - November 1989, no. 78, as 'Church and Market, Tréboul': this exhibition travelled to Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery; Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, and Cambridge, Kettle's Yard.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1930, the present work dates from the most fruitful last year of Wood's career. Wood returned from Tréboul in June 1930 with Frosca Munster and proceeded to embark on a frenzied period of painting, producing some sixty canvases in forty days.

In a letter to Ben and Winifred Nicholson, written in 1930, Wood commented that he was tired of painting boats and ports and decided to turn to architectural subject matter, the structural and solid qualities of this enabled him to create 'more peaceful compositions'. Often these depictions of Brittany churches or village squares were painted with the use of postcards and resulted in an amalgam of different topographical parts. In the present work, the church and market dominate the composition, while on the right, a cluster of white houses sit on the receding hills. These houses are strikingly similar to those that appear in Ben Nicholson's Cornish paintings of the 1930s and reveal the strong link between the two artists.

The present work is typical of this important period of Wood's output in that it demonstrates a fascinating duality apparent in many of his later paintings. Eric Newton (op. cit., p. 46) commented that 'his best paintings are at the same time radiant and faintly sinister. Fra Angelico and El Greco seem, for once, to have met on common ground. There is an unclouded purity, at times a rapture in his pictures, but there is also a thunderstorm somewhere in the neighbourhood. Sometimes it is the inky blue-black of the sea, sometimes a leaden sky, more often a series of sinister shapes that cannot be analysed, that set the mood.

The dream-like quality and heightened colour scheme that defines the paintings from 1930 are no doubt influenced by the artist's heavy addiction to opium by this time.

H.S. (Jim) Ede (1895-1990), the previous owner of this work, had worked as a curator at the Tate Gallery throughout the 1920s and became close friends with many artists, including Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Christopher Wood. On his retirement, he bought four tumbledown cottages in Castle Street, Cambridge, filling them with his art collection, and leaving them to the University of Cambridge in 1966 as a place for study and the contemplation of art. He continued to live at Kettle's Yard until 1973, when he returned to live in his native Edinburgh until his death in 1990.
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