Souza painted this picture in response to the London race riots of the late 1950s. His sombre protagonist is striking in his mourning suit against a white background. The man is quietly dignified, but there is a feeling of violence inflicted in the painting, his shirt seems to bleed with spattered paint. Souza believed it to be one of his best works, ‘close to the bone of man because it is about the colour of the skin.’
Francis Newton Souza
Negro in Mourning
All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life
Date of work
Francis Newton Souza (1924 – 2002) was an Indian artist born in Goa, who worked in expressionist and avant-garde spheres. He formed the Progressive Artists Group of Bombay to encourage Indian artists to participate in global art movements, and was the first post-colonial Indian artist to become successful in Britain and the United States. His work challenges hypocrisy and dualism in religion, society and sexuality. Souza spent many years in Britain and New York, but returned to India shortly before his death 2002, and buried in Mumbai.