Cheeky Snake inscribed 'Clifford' on the trunk of the tree synthetic polymer paint on carved beanwood Height: 80cm (31in)
PROVENANCE: Executed circa 1977 Bought by an Alice Springs taxi driver directly from the artist in 1977 at a bush camp near Papunya Elder Fine Art, Aboriginal Painting, Adelaide, 2 December, 2007, lot 41 Private collection
Cf. For two related examples see Cheeky Snake Carving, 1973, and Snake Carving, c. 1975, in Vivien Johnson, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 2003, p.51 and p.55 (illus.).
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri began his artistic career as a sculptor, initially carving items for the tourist trade such as snakes and goannas. In Vivien Johnson's monograph on the artist, she notes that in the mid 1950s Tjapaltjarri spent some time with Albert Namatjira who, upon recognising his potential, invited him to paint with him. However, Clifford reputedly declined, saying: 'No, no. I do it my way. Carving - start from carving.' (ibid, p.24).
Of these realistically rendered snake carvings on tree branches such as this example, only few are known.
This lot is sold with an accompanying letter from the previous vendor recording the provenance of the work