Circle of Keith Vaughan, Cum Mortuis in Lingua Mortua - Mid-20th-century gouache
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An original mid-20th-century gouache painting, Circle of Keith Vaughan Cum Mortuis in Lingua Mortua.
Gouache, pastel, Indian ink and silver paint. The title of this expressive picture, meaning "with the dead in a dead language", references a Movement from the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky,
Unsigned. Inscribed below the image lower centre.
Some minor age toning towards the outer edges of the sheet, and a small crease across the upper left corner.
28.2cm x 22cm.
This picture is from a sophisticated collection of mixed media works, which date from the period during which Keith Vaughan was working and are closely related to his style. We acquired the collection bearing this attribution. Keith Vaughan has in recent years enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. He was reportedly the best-selling artist at the 2012 British Art Fair, outselling Damien Hirst and Mary Fedden.
Like the works of Vaughan, these drawings all have key figurative elements, focusing on the human figure, whilst overall having an abstract aesthetic. Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) was self-taught as an artist, who went on to teach at Camberwell College of Arts, the Central School of Art and later at the Slade School. Vaughan said “for me painting which has not got a representational element in it hardly goes beyond the point of design.”
The majority of the works in this collection are titled by the artist, and are therefore given narrative meaning. Their themes are often dark and ambiguous, touching on loss, suffering, belonging and mortality. Other drawings have literary and philosophical associations, depicting characters from the novels of Dostoyevsky and Hermann Hesse.
Vaughan’s own style was individualist; he identified with the Romantic notion of the “cult of the individual” and his early work was influenced by the postwar melancholy Neo-Romanticism of his friends Graham Sutherland and John Minton. He also drew inspiration from varied literary sources, including William Blake, Franz Kafka and James Joyce – the Romantic, nightmarish and heroic.
Vaughan often worked in a sketchy, frenzied style and his palette was typically muted. Some of his works are similar to Henry Moore’s wartime drawings, and use line and form to communicate emotional weight. Later Vaughan came to the Europeans and Cubism, inspired by the more generalised forms of Picasso. This collection of drawings share Vaughan’s complex, layered quality, and likewise these pictures are generally sombre in colour as well as meaning, in some cases being monochrome.
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Product code: JE-079