Roses in a Jar was painted in 1925, when Christopher Wood was living in Paris - indeed the present work is painted on a French board. That year Wood's friends Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau introduced him to Serge Diaghilev, the impressario and founder of the Ballets Russes, and in the following year Diaghilev commissioned Wood to design the sets for a production of Romeo and Juliet, conducted by Wood's friend Constant Lambert.
In 1924, Wood showed his first pictures at Heal's in London. He travelled widely with Gandarillas in 1925, to Marseilles, Monte Carlo, Rome and London. As early as 1925, his biographer Eric Newton wrote, 'he had painted pictures that could have been painted by no one else'.
In 1925 Wood had a studio in Montmartre, and his still lifes of the time show the impact of the French and European painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Roses in a Jar the heavy outline of the vase and the shape of the vase on the table top closely echo those in van Gogh's Sunflowers, 1889 (private collection). Wood's energetic and gestural brushstrokes also demonstrate the impression van Gogh's painting had made on him at this time. The palette, however, is soft and melodious, in contrast with the more acidic yellows of Sunflowers, and the delicate pink, brown and green hues of the entire composition combine to vividly evoke the flowers. Wood was fond of flowers as a subject, and his paintings of 1925 are the first to reveal his incredible understanding of colour and harmony.
By 1925, Wood had already been mentioned in several fashion magazines as a 'bright young person'. The work he produced in 1925 and early 1926 became the subject of his first major exhibition at the Redfern Gallery in London, which he shared with Paul Nash. He was to meet and impress Ben and Winifred Nicholson for the first time in 1926, and they became lifelong friends.
We are very grateful to Dr William Mason for his assistance in preparing the catalogue entries for lots 4 and 24.