Untitled (Landscape)

Untitled (Landscape)
signed and dated 'Souza + 90' (upper right)
oil on canvas
55 ½ x 23 in. (141 x 58.4 cm.)
Painted in 1990
Pundole's, 29 August 2019, lot 60
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari Specialist, Head of Department


The genre of landscape was a cornerstone of Francis Newton Souza’s oeuvre. Fellow artist Jagdish Swaminathan has described Souza as a "painter of cityscapes and religious themes. While in the latter he is loaded with a troubled presentiment, in the former he is singularly devoid of emotive inhibitions [...] Souza's cityscapes are the congealed visions of a mysterious world" (J. Swaminathan, 'Souza's Exhibition', Lalit Kala Contemporary 40, March 1995, p. 31). Souza began to paint landscapes at the outset of his career, including several Goan vistas and views from his home in Bombay near Crawford Market in the 1940s. A decade later, in London, Souza painted some of the most ambitious and iconic works of his career, including several landscapes recently featured in Tate Britain’s All Too Human exhibition on London School painters in 2018.

The present lot, Untitled (Landscape) from 1990, combines the iconic format and subject of Souza's earlier works with the characteristic technique he developed later in his career. The bright, joyous palette and dynamic application of paint epitomize this late style, most notably in the thinly applied background. Nevertheless, the composition of the cityscape in the foreground here is particularly reminiscent of Souza's earlier landscapes. Despite being painted more than twenty years after he left his home in England for the United States, the rolling green hills, corniced buildings and domed rooftops call to mind Hampstead Heath in London where he lived for two decades. Here, buildings tumble across rolling hills in a riot of color; the blues and greens glowing as if part of stained glass windows in the Catholic Churches Souza was so familiar with from his childhood in Goa.

This is a celebratory landscape, painted in a vivid palette heightened with maroons and browns that imbue the composition with vibrancy and a sense of jubilation. A large, vertically-formatted work painted when Souza was almost in his 70s, the present lot shows the modern master still at the peak of his powers. An exceptional landscape, it represents the culmination of over fifty years of practice of a revered painter entirely aware of his oeuvre, and is every bit as poignant in the 1990s as the body of work that preceded it.

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