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John Wells (British, 1907-2000) Untitled

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American & European Works of Art - 2409
Date / Time :
May 16, 2008 4:00PM


John Wells (British, 1907-2000)

Signed, dated, and inscribed "John Wells c. 1960-62 / 90/18 ANCHOR STUDIO / NEWLYN
WEST" on the reverse.
Oil and graphite on Masonite, 6 5/8 x 38 1/4 in. (16.8 x 97.2 cm), framed.
Condition: Good.
Provenance: Purchased from Wills Lane Gallery, St. Ives, Cornwall, England, by the present owner.
N.B. An offset lithograph, Earth, Sea and Air, signed and dated "John Wells. 1953." in pencil l.l., titled l.c., numbered "11/75" l.r., sight size 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm), framed, accompanies the lot. John Wells was a doctor by trade, devoting several decades to the study of medicine. Art-making, however, had been a serious engagement for him since his early twenties when he began taking evening courses at St. Martin's School of Art. (1) Wells practiced medicine until the end of World War II, when he chose to leave his profession and commit to painting entirely. He rented a studio in Newlyn, Cornwall from artist Stanhope Forbes, under whom he had briefly studied, and began showing at local St. Ives galleries with artists including of Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson (2) From 1949-1951, Wells worked as an apprentice to Hepworth, and by 1960, around the time that the present work was created, he was given his first solo exhibition in London at Waddington Galleries. (3) Wells was influenced by the Constructivist style practiced by Hepworth and Naum Gabo. The style's concerns with depicting visual analogues of physical forces in the world appealed to Wells' scientific background. (4) Many of his post-war works are "characterized by the use of systems through which he divided the blank rectangle of the canvas or backboard into a series of lines and intersections, which then formed the basic structures of his composition." (5) The present work exhibits this schema, and relates to his works from the 1950s depicting bird forms in flight. (1) Rowe, Matthew. John Wells: The Fragile Cell. London: Tate Gallery Publishing, Ltd., 1998. Pg. 8. (2) Ibid., pg. 9 (3) Ibid., pg. 9 (4) Ibid., pg. 11 (5) Ibid., pg. 13
Estimate $10,000-15,000

Although it has not been removed from its frame, there are no other visible condition issues to report. The same is true for the print. The dimensions are correct.


John Wells, Cornwall, St. Ives, ANCHOR STUDIO, Wills Lane Gallery, United Kingdom, London, St. Martin's School of Art, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Stanhope Forbes, Naum Gabo, Tate Gallery Publishing Ltd., Geography of England, Wells