PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE EMANUEL SCHLESINGER
Oil on canvas
34 x 24 in. (86.4 x 60.9 cm.)
Signed and dated 'GKeyt / 43' upper left
'The lyrical painting of George Keyt is sensuous Indian poetry brought to canvas. Like earlier Indian painters of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills, and M. F. Husain after him, Keyt takes as his primary theme woman, as the focus of man's concern. He paints her in flat planes, with bounding lines and a rich warmth of colour. His idiom occasionally carries in it a hint of Picasso but is, once again, in direct line with the traditional styles of Central India, Mewar, and Basohli. But the originality of Keyt's inspiration is undoubted, and his work remains uniquely his own.' (Richard Bartholomew and Shiv Kapur, Husain, New York, 1972, p. 27)
George Keyt was a Dutch-Sinhalese artist who drew much of his inspiration from the various influences that he saw in the ancient art of Sri Lanka and India. His style of working and execution recalled the ancient Sigiriya frescoes in Sri Lanka, whilst his choice of subjects was closely linked to the search for and celebration of love as described in classical Indian poetry. Largely a figurative painter who favoured the female form, his work evolved from a more classical style to one that was characterised by stylised figures depicted with a graceful and free use of line combined with distinctly Cubist elements. Even though Keyt did not travel to Europe like some of his contemporaries, he was introduced to Cubism and other art movements through Western artists and other visitors to Sri Lanka.
The current work perfectly illustrates this unique marriage of a traditional subject to Keyt's preferred style. 'In almost every picture, plants, flowers or leaves are brought into intimate association with the feminine physique - serving sometimes as symbols of a plant- like luxuriance, sometimes as invitations to romance, sometimes as poetic indications of female charm. The paintings, in fact are equivalent to Indian love-paintings, and although their literal imitation could in no circumstances have solved Keyt's artistic problem, they proved the admiration for women was an essential ingredient in Sri Lankan art.' (W.G. Archer, 'The Early Phase', George Keyt A Centennial Anthology, Colombo, 2001, p. 21)
The colours of the original are similar to those of the catalogue illustration. The work has been recently cleaned and varnished. Scattered areas of minor craquelure are visible in the green grass to the left of the figure's face, on her nose, on her upper left arm, and in her hair. Stretcher marks faintly visible along all four edges, partially visible in catalogue illustration (left edge). Scattered areas of retouching visible under UV light, including a small area on the figure's chin, a small fine line under her eye, a few scattered areas on her left breast, a few minor areas on her arm, on her leg, along the lower edge near the folds of her saree. Small scattered spots along the upper edge and one in the flowers to the right of the signature. Overall good condition.
About The Artist:
GEORGE KEYT (1901-1993)