WOOD, Rex (1906-1970)
Portrait of a young woman
[Adelaide : probably between 1930 and 1935]. Watercolour and gouache on paper, sheet 280 x 190 mm, signed lower right ‘Rex Wood’; laid down on original board mount, removed from a frame at some point; in very good condition.
Rex Wood was born in Laura, in the Mid North of South Australia in 1906, and studied painting at the South Australian School of Art in Adelaide. Although his first solo exhibition was held in Adelaide in 1935, his works – in various mediums – had been included in numerous Adelaide exhibitions from around 1930. He left for England in 1937, shortly after his second solo exhibition, and continued his studies in London before eventually settling in Portugal, where he remained domiciled until his death by drowning in 1970.
The beautiful young woman depicted in this fine head-and-shoulders portrait is unidentified. Stylistically the work is strongly influenced by the Art Deco aesthetic, recalling in particular the female subjects of Tamara de Lempicka. The age of the mount and backing sheet confirms an early 1930s dating. The work is therefore a relatively early one in terms of Wood’s oeuvre, painted in Adelaide prior to his initial departure from Australia.
Although Wood is acknowledged as a highly accomplished Australian artist of some importance, relatively few of his works – either paintings or prints – are held in Australian public collections. He is represented in the collections of the Art Gallery of South Australia; the State Library of South Australia; the National Gallery of Australia; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Hamilton Art Gallery.
Provenance: Private collection, Melbourne.