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Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more The Property of the late Eric and Stella Newton
Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)

French Soldiers Carrying Babies and Visiting Graves

Details
Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)
French Soldiers Carrying Babies and Visiting Graves
signed with initials and dated 'WL/1951' (lower left)
pencil and bodycolour
12½ x 15 in. (31.7 x 38.1 cm.)
Provenance
Acquired by Eric Newton direct from the artist in 1951.
Literature
W. Michel, Wyndham Lewis, Paintings and Drawings, London, 1971, pp. 146 and 421, no. 1127, pl. xvi.
Exhibited
London, Tate Gallery, Seventeen Collectors, March-April 1952, no. 263 as 'Composition'.
London, Tate Gallery, Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, July-August 1956, no. 114.
Manchester, City Art Gallery, Wyndham Lewis, October-November 1980, no. 155; this exhibition toured to Cardiff, National Museum of Wales, November 1980-January 1981; and Edinburgh, City Art Centre, January-March 1981.
London, Imperial War Museum, Wyndham Lewis, Art and War, June-October 1992, no. 77.
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Lot Essay

LEwis served in the First World War as a gunner in the Royal Artillery (1916-17). Although he spent the Second World War in America and Canada, he worked as an Official War Artist, painting A Canadian War Factory (Tate Gallery, London) in 1943. War remained a pre-occupation throughout his life.

The present work was one of Lewis' last watercolours. The artist originally described it as 'Poilus taking their babies to visit the graves of their mothers', but later said that they were not beings who inhabit this world. Paul Edwards (Wyndham Lewis, Art and War, Imperial War Museum exhibition catalogue, London, 1992, p. 53) comments on the present work, 'It is a fantastic and obscure image, the figures having a fluctuating and indefinite existence. But since the figures who carry the babies are soldiers, it can be assumed that the graves are those of the mothers; victims perhaps of some war. Lewis had lost his own mother in the influeza epidemic that followed the First World War'.
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