Peter de Francia

Disparates (Omnia Vincit Amor)


Not on display

Peter de Francia 1921–2012
Oil paint and charcoal on canvas
Support: 2127 × 1647 mm
Purchased 1986

Display caption

This modern satire takes its title from the group of 'Disparates' prints by Goya, and is one of a series of works by de Francia of this title, most of them drawings. Many point bitterly to the savagery and hypocrisy of political life. Here he mocks the deceptions of lust, as the woman is not as beautiful, nor the man as heroic, as they pretend. De Francia is one of the few British artists who have confronted such subjects continuously since the war. His style of drawing is narrative but in the Expressionist tradition, in which the image may be distorted or rearranged to create the effects the artist seeks.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Peter de Francia born 1921

T04140 Disparates (Omnia Vincit Amor) 1977

Oil and charcoal on canvas 2127 x 1647 (83 3/4 x 65)
Inscribed ‘DE FRANCIA' on stretcher
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Exh: Peter de Francia, Paintings and Drawings 1959-1977, Camden Arts Centre, Sept.-Oct. 1977 (51)
Lit: Timothy Hyman, ‘The Drawings of Peter de Francia' in Peter de Francia, Painter and Professor, an Anthology, exh. cat., Camden Arts Centre 1987, p.13, repr. p.14

‘Omnia Vincit Amor' was the latest painting in the artist's retrospective exhibition organised by the Camden Arts Centre in 1977, and is his largest since two triptychs of 1973-5 and 1974. From about 1970 de Francia concentrated on finished drawings, occasionally enlarging one of them into a painting. The drawing for T04140 was made in 1974 (private collection, exh. cat., Camden Arts Centre 1977, no. 57, repr.). The principal difference is that in the painting the head of the young female nude is turned away to the right whereas in the drawing she stares blankly at the man. This is one of a very few of the series of ‘Disparates' drawings which has been enlarged as a painting, and was made at the artist's studio in South East London.

The title ‘Love Conquers Everything' (from Virgil, Eclogue 10, 69, but well known) is ironic, since the man is shown to be deluded by his own vanity. He stands astride a bull's head, which is set onto a stick like a hobby horse, and this false virility confronts an old woman holding up to his gaze a model of the head and torso of a young woman, as if made of plaster. On the wall an exotic landscape (which was taken by the artist from a coloured postcard) is equally false to the seedy interior.

The drawing is one of a series begun in 1969 and titled ‘Disparates' after the etchings by Goya (about 1819). T04141 and T04142 are also from this series. Goya's title was itself taken from the name given to paintings by Bosch and other Flemish painters brought into Spain from the Netherlands, and which would have been unacceptable as heretical in subject, but for this description as ‘vagaries' or ‘follies', which gave them licence. De Francia's subjects are not taken directly from Goya, but he saw his satirical subject matter in the 1970s in a comparable way set apart from more conventional taste (particularly in contrast to abstract art), and as similarly an exposure of evil and stupidity. In this particular case de Francia did not intend the painting to condemn sexual vanity but to point to its existence.

This entry and those on the four drawings T04141-4 were based on a discussion with the artist on 16 May 1986, and have been approved by him.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.135-6

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