Description: Nude Resting signed 'Hitchens' (lower left), signed again and inscribed 'Nude, Resting/Ivon Hitchens' (on a label attached to the stretcher) oil on canvas 16 x 29 1/2 in. (40.6 x 75 cm.) Painted circa 1950.
Artist or Maker: Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979)
Exhibited: Possibly, London, Leicester Galleries, New Painting: Watercolours by Kenneth Rowntree: Recent works by Claude Vernard: New paintings by Ivon Hitchens, November 1950.
Provenance: The model.
with Waddington Galleries, London.
with Gillian Jason Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner.
Notes: Painted circa 1950, Nude Resting forms part of an important group of figure paintings by Hitchens. Rarer, and therefore less well known than his landscape works, the figure paintings demonstrate Hitchens' versatility as a painter. Although he had included works depicting nudes and figures in earlier exhibitions, it was the November 1950 exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, in which twenty seven nudes by Hitchens were included, that first really drew attention to this side of his work. Since that time, only one other Hitchens exhibition, in 1968, has been devoted to this subject matter.
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After his move to Sussex with his family during the Second World War, it was more difficult for Hitchens to employ professional models. However, figures were not completely absent from his work as he included his family in his paintings, for example in Boy at Breakfast (sold for a world record price in these rooms, 21 November 2003, lot 64). In 1948 Hitchens was able to employ a professional model (see fig. 1) who sat for the paintings that were shown at the Leicester Galleries exhibition.
In the present work, Hitchens has emphasised the nude by outlining the figure and built up the background with blocks of strong colour. Peter Khoroche (Ivon Hitchens, London, 1990, p. 73) has commented on the similarity of Hitchens' approach to nude and landscape painting, 'Further confirmation that Hitchens' nudes are a variation on his landscape techniques lies in his frequent use of the wide canvas, familiar from the landscapes, for the figure paintings. This is not because he sees the female form as a landscape... The reasons are, as ever pictorial and aesthetic: the conventional square-shaped canvas is felt to constrict movement sideways, and without movement the picture lacks life. Consequently the body is most often depicted reclining on its side, its back or its front, and the horizontal rhythm is either a curved arabesque or a series of sharper angles. An echo effect is frequently apparent in the composition of the background... In the landscapes the eye is allowed to escape down one or more vistas, out of the painting, for a rest before returning to explore the picture pattern. So in the nudes, by often stopping short at the ankles and missing out the feet, Hitchens allows the legs to float off the edge of the canvas where our eyes follow them beyond the known shape of the body, again to rest a while. This is the 'sense of infinity' to which he alludes in his 'Notes on Painting' as being an important component of any picture'.
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