Letters, papers, artworks, photographs and press cuttings on the painter (John) Christopher Wood

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Christopher Wood met Frosca Munster in Paris in 1928. Although she was married, they began an intense relationship, meeting in Cornwall, London or Paris whenever possible. The collection contains a large number of love letters and telegrams from Wood to Frosca, and letters from Rene Crevel and Jean Cocteau. It includes telegrams of condolence to Frosca after Wood's death, memoirs of him by, among others, Winifred Nicholson, Max Jacob and Jean Cocteau, and reports about his death. The collection also contains photographs of Wood and his friends, press cuttings relating to his death and exhibitions, and locks of his and Frosca's hair.

The majority of the collection is written in French, although Wood's letters to Frosca (TGA 723/5-75) have been translated into English.

Administrative / Biographical History

Christopher 'Kit' Wood was born in 1901. He was educated at Marlborough College and studied architecture at Liverpool University. In 1921 he enrolled at the Academie Julian in Paris, then at the Grande Chaumire. He met a number of European artists, including Jean Cocteau (with whom he shared a studio) and Picasso, whilst in Paris and during visits to Europe and north Africa.

In 1926 he met Ben and Winifred Nicholson in London and stayed with them in Cornwall, where he and Ben Nicholson discovered the work of the naive painter Alfred Wallis (in 1928). A member of the Seven and Five Society, he also exhibited with the London Group. His best work was completed in Brittany in the final two years of his life. He was killed by a train at Salisbury railway station in 1930. Frosca Munster, a Russian emigre, met Wood in Paris in 1928. They began a relationship and she stayed with him and the Nicholsons in Cornwall.

The first monograph on Wood was Eric Newton's 'Christopher Wood, 1901-30' (1938). The most recent biography is Richard Ingleby's 'Christopher Wood: An English Painter' (1995).

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Other Finding Aids

Paper list available

Custodial History

Presented to the Tate Gallery by Frosca Munster in 1961 and transferred to the Archive in 1972.

Related Material

Letters from Wood to his mother can be found in TGA 773. There is also material in the papers of Mrs Jacques Le Roy (né Winifred Reitlinger) (TGA 907), Cedric Morris (TGA 8317), and Ben Nicholson (TGA 8717; TGA 8618), and in the records of the Seven and Five Society (TGA 849). Works by Wood are included in the exhibition catalogues of the London Group (TGA 7713). A sketchbook, letters, photographs and other ephemera, 1910-1930, are held at Cambridge University Kettle's Yard Museum and Art Gallery.

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