Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Edward Wolfe came to London in 1916, studying at the Slade School of Art and Regents Street Polytechnic. By 1917 he had been invited to join the Omega Workshops by Roger Fry and Nina Hamnett where he painted and designed furniture in a bold Fauvist language, and was surrounded by artists sympathetic to the growing
appreciation for modern French art in Britain. Wolfe recalled that it was under the growing influence of the Bloomsbury Group his ‘life really
Wolfe became one of the first British artists to be enticed and influenced by the work of Matisse, Gauguin and Modigliani, becoming known as ‘England’s Matisse’, due to his painterly style and vibrant use of colour.
“Wolfe does more than convey his own delight in the world, notably in still-life; he spells out slowly and lovingly with such supercharged gusto and excited imagination that a prosaic subject is transformed, as a painting, into an ‘Object de luxe’”. (Bryan Robertson, The Arts Council Retrospective Exhibition, 1967)
LOT 57 | § EDWARD WOLFE R.A. (SOUTH AFRICAN/BRITISH 1897-1982) | ABSTRACT, CIRCA 1940
oil on board | 31.5cm x 56cm (12.6in x 22in) | £1,000 - £1,500 + fees
Wolfe suffered wanderlust, no doubt spurred by the desire to escape the grey climate of Britain, and never forgetting the topography and light of his home country, which led him to travel widely in Italy, Mexico, North America and back to South Africa painting vibrant portraits and landscapes in these settings. However, as Richard Shone noted it is what Wolfe brought to the English School of painting that counted ‘enriching and diversifying its achievement…with penetrating portraits, still lifes brimming with vitality…and landscapes that catch the spirit of place through a naturally generous temperament’. (Richard Shone, 1994)
During his lifetime Wolfe showed extensively both in Britain and internationally, including as a member of the Seven and Five Society (1926-1931) and Royal Academy (1951-1970), being elected as an Associate Member of the Academy in 1967 and a Member in 1972. His work is now included in the Tate Collection, London; Royal Academy, London; National Portrait Gallery, London and National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.
The collection of works included in our forthcoming Modern Made auction this October display Edward Wolfe throughout his career, showing his moods and experiences, his subtle and brash colour work, and his complex use of line, giving a unique insight into ‘England’s Matisse’.