Keith Vaughan: Felled Trees, 1940


Pen and ink and wash on paper,
Signed and dated in the artist’s hand lower left, studio stamp lower right
12 x 16.5 cm
Framed in oak

Exhibited: Osborne Samuel Gallery, London, 2010

Literature: Keith Vaughan: Gouaches, Drawings & Prints, Osborne Samuel, p. 45

Provenance: Artist’s estate, Professor John Ball, private collection

It is probable that Vaughan was planning a painting of some kind on the theme of trees in the early 1940s. He produced numerous pen and ink drawings on this subject in his sketchbooks at this time. In the later, more finished studies such as this, we find branches strewn across the forest floor. These became more human in appearance – with the suggestion of limbs and other anatomical qualities – as he worked on this unrealized project. The metamorphosis implies that Vaughan was equating the lopped off branches and felled trees with the youthful, fallen soldiers being slaughtered in Europe. A poignant point worth bearing in mind, is that he had recently been informed that his younger brother Dick, who was in the RAF, had been shot down over Rheims in France. No doubt this influenced the imagery of these tree drawings.