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Francis Newton Souza (India 1924‑2002)

”Vase with flowers”

To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design & Watches 14 – 16 May 2024

Lot 537 Francis Newton Souza (India 1924‑2002). ”Vase with flowers”. Signed and dated Souza 58 lower right and signed and dated F.N. Souza 1958 on the reverse. Titled and inscribed ”Vaze with flowers Sweden” on the reverse. Oil on board, 76 x 61 cm.


500.000 – 700.000 SEK
€ 43.000 – 60.000


Ragnar Zedell, Stockholm (probably).
Märta Lundkvist (1905‑1990).
Thence by decent to her son Willy Lundkvist (1932‑2001).
Thence by descent to the present owner.


Gallery St Nicolaus, ”Francis Newton Souza”, Stockholm, 1959 (probably).

Francis Newton Souza is one of the most prominent Indian painters, known for his bold and evocative style that often challenged conventional norms. Born in Goa in 1924, he showed early talent in drawing, studying oleographs, prints and pictures imported from Europe. Only 16 years old, he enrolled at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay which he never completed. In 1947, when India gained independence, Souza joined India’s Communist Party and became a founding member of the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG). They created a new language for Modern art in India by breaking away from the academic traditions and embracing a more modern, experimental approach. 

A couple of years later, Souza left for London, searching for a more liberal audience for his work, which often dealt with themes of sexuality, religion and social critique, rendered through a distinctive expressionistic style. In the late 1950s and 60s, Souza became recognized internationally and gained prominence in the art world. He held several successful exhibitions in Europe and the United States, contributing to the global recognition of Indian modern art.

While Souza is perhaps best known for his bold and often provocative figurative works, he also created beautiful flower still lifes throughout his career. These works showcase a different side of his artistic talent, demonstrating his ability to capture the beauty and delicacy of nature in his own unique style.

The still lifes often feature vibrant colours, bold brushstrokes and dynamic compositions, elements that are all present in the painting included in the sale. By using the primary colours, the painting becomes alive. The blue vase pops from the red background and the yellow flowers, which are painted quite roughly, a vigorous composition that is intertwined with delicacy. Souza brings a sense of tranquility and contemplation, offering viewers a moment of respite from the intensity of his more provocative works. Despite their seemingly serene subject matter, Souza’s flower still lifes still carry his signature style and underlying themes. There is often an element of tension or ambiguity present, hinting at deeper layers of meaning beneath the surface beauty. While perhaps less well-known than his figurative works, Souza’s flower still lifes are nonetheless an important aspect of his artistic legacy. They demonstrate his versatility as an artist and offer viewers a glimpse into a quieter, more contemplative side of his creative vision. 

Francis Newton Souza’s contribution to the development of Indian contemporary art is significant. His legacy continues to inspire artists both in India and around the world, and his works are celebrated for their raw emotion and unapologetic honesty. 

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