University Art Collection

Christopher Wood (England, 1901-1930)

Born in Knowsley, near Liverpool, Christopher ‘Kit’ Wood started, but never finished, studying medicine and architecture to later pursue a career as an artist in Paris, from 1921 to 1926. In France, he would come in contact with the Parisian avant-garde, becoming close to Jean Cocteau’s creative circle. In England, he became close friends to Ben and Winifred Nicholson, with whom he painted the Cumbria landscape. With Ben, he would meet and establish an artistic creative exchange with Alfred Wallis in St Ives, Cornwall. Through the Nicholsons, Wood met Jim Ede and became close friends with the art collector, who would play a key role in establishing Wood’s reputation as a significant modern British artist. He died at 29 in 1930 after he was killed by an express train at Salisbury station after an opium-induced psychotic episode.

Because he died young, and just before more progressive art forms developed in Britain in the 1930s, he has remained for many a forgotten character in British art history and it is only in the last 10 years that specialist attention has been casted to his work as a fascinating chapter in modern British art. Wood’s oeuvre has also been revaluated through queer theory, as much of his work was informed by the homosexual subculture in Paris and his own relationships as a bisexual person, to José Antonio Gandarillas Huici (1887–1970), a Chilean diplomat, Jeanne Bourgoint, Meraud Guiness, and Frosca Munster.  

Image: Christopher Wood, Harbour in the Hills (Ships and Lighthouse, Cornwall), c.1928-30, oil on canvas. Donated by Jim Ede. University of Essex Art Collection.