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Western art

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Figure against a blue background



Keith Vaughan


23 Aug 1912 - 04 Nov 1977


'Figure against a blue background' was closely linked with another painting of the same period, ['Fourth assembly of figures' 1956] now in the Nottingham Museum, originally titled 'Transfiguration group'. Subsequently I altered the titles of both paintings to remove any religious associations, which were never intended. From my point of view the painting is of interest because it was the first time I succeeded in controlling a looser, more spontaneous and fluent style of painting, and uniting figurative and abstract elements in the same composition. While realising the dangers involved in this, I had nevertheless long felt compelled to try and find a common ground for unifying the two elements and reconciling the conflict implicit in the concept of man in his environment (a reconciliation purely in plastic terms and not in illustrative or descriptive terms).
Letter from the artist 14.11.1960


Other Title

Study for a Transfiguration



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


91.5 x 91.5 cm stretcher; 106.5 x 105.7 x 3.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r., blue paint "Vaughan". Not dated.


Purchased 1960


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Keith Vaughan

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


The Leicester Galleries, 1958, London/England

The Matthiesen Gallery, Mar 1960, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Matthiesen Gallery 1960. Purchased from the exhibition 'Recent paintings by Keith Vaughan' 26 February - 19 March 1960

Referenced in 7 publications


Ernest Brown and Phillips Ltd, London, Recent paintings by Keith Vaughan, London, 1958.

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 201 (illus.).

Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 177. 2188

Hal Missingham, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Acquisitions for 1960', pg. 58-67, Sydney, Apr 1961, 59 (illus.).

Hal Missingham, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Acquisitions for 1960', pg. 60-67, Sydney, Apr 1961, 59 (illus.).

The Matthiesen Gallery, Keith Vaughan: recent paintings, London, 1960.

Walker Art Gallery, The Walker Art Gallery presents the John Moores Liverpool exhibition, Liverpool, 1957. 77, as 'Study for a Transfiguration'