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Keith Vaughan: Recent Acquisitions

[ Exhibition )

A painting by Keith Vaughan depicting an abstracted figure in greys, browns and yellows on a background of blue and grey tones

Keith Vaughan, Figure Falling Forwards (1962-3) Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Bequest of Sir Peter Shaffer, CBE, 2017) © The Estate of Keith Vaughan. All rights reserved, DACS 2018

Keith Vaughan (1912 – 1977) was associated with Neo-Romanticism and was frequently inspired by the human figure. This focused display includes six new works left to Pallant House Gallery by the late British playwright Sir Peter Shaffer, who wrote ‘Equus’ and ‘Amadeus’.

This bequest forms an important addition to our collection of Modern British art. It includes the paintings Boy Carrying a Tomato Plant (1945), Figure Falling Forwards (1962-3) and October Landscape (1971). Created between 1944 and 1971, the works present a unique snapshot into Vaughan’s working life and the evolving development of his style and technique.

Vaughan was born in Selsey, West Sussex and was largely self-taught as an artist. He was associated with the neo-romantic style of artists during the Second World War, which included his friends the painters Graham Sutherland and John Minton. In the 1950s and 60s he developed his own unique figurative style and visual language informed by continental abstract art and his interest in the male form, as a gay man.

Born in Liverpool, Shaffer spent much of his life living in New York but had connections to Chichester through the Festival Theatre. His play The Royal Hunt of the Sun premiered at the theatre in 1964, and the first production staged in the refurbished theatre in 2014 was a new production of Amadeus starring Rupert Everett. He was appointed CBE in 1997 and knighted in 2001.

Shaffer bequeathed two-fifths of his estate to the HIV charity the Terence Higgins Trust, and the remaining 60% was split equally between the National Trust, English Heritage and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. He also bequeathed Vaughan’s Fifth Assembly (Two Figures in Sequence (1957-8) to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Want to know more?

If you’re conducting research into this artist or another of Modern British art, please contact Sarah Norris, Head of Collections (

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