Peter de Francia 1921-2012

4 March - 2 April 2022

Peter de Francia’s vibrant palette, dynamic compositions and evocative subjects reflect a style of painting that developed out of Picassos’ modernism. Some are dark and others funny. Best known for large-scale, sometimes violent depictions of combat and struggle, de Francia also gave attention to bucolic scenes of industry and recreation. These two narrative threads, distinct at first sight, share a preoccupation with the human experience, sensitive but un-sentimentalised.


Born in France to Italian and English parents, de Francia studied at the Acadeěmie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1938 and, following the wartime occupation of Belgium, moved to England, where he completed his studies at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Subsequently, de Francia was Principal of Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, and Professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art. He was an influential socialist artist who was deeply invested in presenting the global realities of capitalism. Unlike many of his contemporaries, his preoccupation was with the world outside of Britain.


This exhibition brings together paintings from the 1950s to 1980s: both the overtly and quietly political. Essays, written by long-time friend and former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Philip Dodd, and Dr Rachel Stratton at the Yale Center for British Art, chart de Francia’s career in the context of these works. They are available to read in our online viewing room.

Installation Views
Virtual Exhibition