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Christopher Wood (British, 1901-1930)

Christopher "Kit" Wood studied architecture briefly at Liverpool University but subsequently turned to painting, studying in Paris at the Academie Julian and then at the Grande Chaumiere. He met Picasso early in his career and became a close friend of Jean Cocteau and Max Jacob. He first exhibited in London in 1924 and in 1925 he exhibited with Paul Nash at the famous Redfern Gallery there. In 1926, he met Ben and Winifred Nicholson, with whom he became close friends. Although in his early development he was widely influenced by the many trends in European contemporary art of his age, he soon developed his own unique 'naive' style, accentuated by strong colours and vigourous representations of boats, seascapes, landscapes and people. He was a particularly fine draughtsman, working quickly in pencil and crayon. Christopher Wood became addicted to opium and he died at the age of 29, falling under a train at Salisbury station.

Christopher Wood. Standing Woman

Standing woman.
Pencil and pastel.
faintly signed
49 x 31.5cm.

Provenance: Henry Gilbert, The Will's Lane Gallery, St. Ives, Cornwall; Christie's sale, June 4th 1971. From an early portfolio in the possession of the Wood family.

This delightful full-length portrait of a young woman by Christopher Wood (1901-1930) depicts the figure in a relaxed pose, appearing to lean against a wall with her legs crossed and her right arm resting on a plinth. The arrangement of her hair and the style of her dress indicate that the drawing was probably created by Wood in the last years of his life during the later 1920s. Wood employs a beautifully controlled line to delineate his sitter’s belted dress, her arms, hands, legs and feet in their high heels. It is only for her face that he uses shading to impart volume and modelling, to capture her composed, interior gaze and her gently inclined head.

Portraits of girls and young women played a significant part in Wood’s oeuvre, and at their finest they are some of his most powerful works. Although perhaps best-known for his coastal scenes of Brittany and Cornwall, it was in these female portraits, and particularly in his drawings on this subject, that he attained the greatest stillness and thoughtfulness to be found in his small output. Addicted to opium, Wood died under a train at Salisbury station aged only twenty-nine.


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