John was the Goan cook of the Trindade household in Mahim. Being the safe keeper of the family’s Goan recipe book granted him an important status and allowed him to sit for the artist. Trindade painted several portraits of John in the 1930s.
In this portrait, he is depicted wearing a jacket treated summarily on the left half. The exaggeration of this convention in the portrait along with a profusion of expressive brush strokes suggest his social condition. With mouth slightly open, gently furrowed brow and deeply bronzed skin, the image of a working-class man is further implied. The warm ochres and beiges create a rustic, earthy atmosphere. Touches of impasto augmented by bold dashed of white on the warm colour scheme add vibrancy to a common subject and composition.
References: Shihandi, Marcella, et al, António Xavier Trindade: An Indian Painter from Portuguese Goa (exhibition catalogue), Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 1996; Gracias, Fátima, Faces of Colonial India: The Work of Goan Artist António Xavier Trindade (1870-1935), Panjim, Goa, Fundação Oriente, 2014.