This is a very early work by Vaughan but, nevertheless, contains some of the qualities and characteristics of his later work including the subject of male nudes brought together into an assembly of figures. It is interesting to compare this to Vaughan’s First Assembly of Figures (1952) where there is a remarkably similar composition, collection of figures, colour scheme and setting. Vaughan produced comparatively few oil paintings before the war. Once he joined the army easel painting was out of the question and besides, not having attended an art school, he felt comfortable using oils. Once the war was over, he managed to overcome some of the ‘stiffness’ and unyielding qualities of the pigment he had previously encountered. Unable to access many photographs of the male nude during the 1930s, Vaughan turned to illustrated books on German Nacktkultur and anthropological studies as starting points for many of his early paintings. In his journal he mentions one such volume, which he saw in a bookshop and which contained a variety of photographs of black, tribal figures. He very much wanted to buy it since he thought it would be a rich source of inspiration. However, his wages from Lintas Advertising Agency were so modest that he could not justify the exorbitant price the bookseller was asking.
the artist’s estate to Belgrave Gallery, London from where acquired by John Constable in March 1989