John Minton (British, 1917-1957) Street at Night 35 X 49 cm. (13 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
Lot 74
John Minton (British, 1917-1957) Street at Night 35 X 49 cm. (13 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
Sold for £21,600 (US$ 36,693) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
John Minton (British, 1917-1957)
Street at Night
signed and dated 'John Minton 1950' (lower left), further signed, inscribed and dated 'John Minton/Street at Night/gouache 1950' (on a label attached verso)
gouache
35 X 49 cm. (13 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    with The Lefevre Gallery, London, where purchased by the grandfather of the present owner, 1953

    Exhibited:
    London, The Art Exhibitions Bureau in conjunction with James Bourlet & Sons, Modern Trends in Watercolour, 1953

    A comparatively large and important oil painting titled Street Corner, Jamaica (1951), depicting the same subject as Street at Night is in the Yale Center for British Art. The two works both show a small group of young Jamaicans relaxing on a street corner, outside the same bar with its saloon-style swing doors. Situated at night-time, fluorescent, electric lighting illuminates the subjects as some engage with the viewer and others loaf around, smoking and chatting. With the present work Minton appears to have taken a step or two backwards enabling him to include more of the bar frontage: Coca Cola advertising, two standing adolescents and, a half-dressed reclining male possibly sleeping of the excesses of his evening out.

    'In May 1950, whilst two of his pictures - a bullfighting scene and a portrait of Ricky Stride - hung at The Royal Academy, he wrote to Martyn Goff: "We leave England on September 9 by a banana boat for the West Indies for the winter at least; perhaps he said, with a faraway look, Forever. I shall totter like a decaying bastion of English culture, right out of Somerset Maugham, rum-soaked and crumpled from bar to bar trying to remember What It Was All About."' (Frances Spalding, John Minton, Dance till the Stars Come Down, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2005, p.153)

    Minton returned to London in December of the same year with a sizeable collection of drawings and watercolours made during his Jamaican experience - the present lot being one of these - which he would use to work on oil paintings. These were later exhibited in his 1951 and 1953 shows at The Lefevre Gallery. Of the Yale Center painting Spalding comments, ' The glowing tropical colour, the jagged patterns created by palms and the listless figures in streets and bars built towards a mood of heavy sadness and potential violence.' (Op.Cit. p.154)

    The exhibition at The Lefevre Gallery was widely appreciated and, the favourable comments made by John Berger at the time could easily have applied towards the present lot: 'One senses Jamaica as a definite place in these pictures - the alternating dryness and dampness of the vegetation, the nights of unreal moonlight, the false animation of the people in the wooden cafes beneath Coca Cola advertisements and naked light bulbs - And at the same time one is aware of the painter's sympathy, of the validity of his human values.' (Op.Cit. p.155).
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