Pieta (Stations of the Cross XIII) c.1953 signed 'R de Maistre' lower left oil on canvas 80.0 x 59.0cm (31 1/2 x 23 1/4in).
PROVENANCE Collection of the artist By descent within the artist's family Private Collection, Sydney
The relevance of religious themes was magnified by the Second World War and drew the attention of major artists including de Maistre, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon in Britain and Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Ian Fairweatherin Australia.
De Maistre had painted major religious works prior to the Second World War such as The Crucifixion 1932-45 (in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney) but it was during the immediate post-War years that he produced his most important works including Stations of the Cross for Westminster Cathedral.There are three known versions of Pieta (stations of the cross XIII) 1950-53, including the present work, a larger, but very similar, example in the collection of the Tate Gallery, London (illustrated in Heather Johnson Roy de Maistre: The English Years 1930-1968, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1995, p. 145)and a smaller painting that was exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 1960. The artist wrote "'Studies and projects for the Stations of the Cross were made in France between 1930 and 1938 and continued in London from 1940 onward. The "Pieta" now in the Tate Gallery stems from these studies", quoted in Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Tate Gallery, London 1964, vol. 2. Another related painting, The Deposition, is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, having being donated by Patrick White in 1974.
Heather Johnson comments that Pieta(Stations of the Cross XIII) owned by the Tate Gallery achieves depth of feeling through "the repetition of sharp angles in the figures, echoing the angles and thorns of Christ'sdiscarded crown on the right, vividly depicts the acuteness and cruelty of the mother's (and all mothers') pain" (Johnson Op. cit. p. 143).