Man Raking Leaves signed and dated 'Keith Vaughan/49' (lower right) watercolour, gouache and ink 35.5 x 27.5 cm. (14 x 10 3/4 in.)
PROVENANCE: With Tib Lane Gallery, Manchester Dr R.L. Holmes Thence by descent
Man Raking Leaves relates closely to the cover design which Vaughan produced for Leader magazine's 19 November 1949 edition. Elements of the two paintings are almost identical; a mother leading her young son to a warmly lit and inviting cottage on an autumnal evening, and a figure or figures tending a heap of fallen leaves in the foreground. Painted in the aftermath of war they display an optimism and romanticism that were understandably lacking in his earlier works. Britain was emerging from one its most draining conflicts in history and Vaughan's vision at this time reflected the relief and hope which came with the end of hostilities.
During the late 1940s Vaughan, along with John Minton, was teaching illustration and composition at Camberwell School of Art. Man Raking Leaves has a strong illustrative quality, one which was not new to the artist. In 1944 he had written his Notes on the Art of Illustration for Penguin New Writing after which he continued to produce work for both covers and book-designs with the support of John Lehmann, an independent publisher.
As with his bonfire painting for the cover of Leader magazine, the figures in the present lot are probably not specific individuals in a particular place as the artist had more pressing concerns. Vaughan's comments on his cover image could equally apply to Man Raking Leaves, 'My object is to convey the autumn atmosphere. To achieve this, what the men are actually doing doesn't matter so much; every detail in the painting is only important in relation to every other detail. I try to create a unity, and not an edition of separate forms' (Malcolm York, Keith Vaughan, his life and work, Constable, London, 1990, p.119).