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Lot 45: IVON HITCHENS 1893-1979 FLOWERS BEFORE A WINDOW
20th Century British Art
July 21, 2005
London, United Kingdom
signed; also signed and inscribed with title on an artist's label attached to the stretcher
oil on canvas
Leicester Galleries, London, August 1948
Private Collection since circa 1970
London, Leicester Galleries, Artists of Fame and Promise: Part II, August 1948, no.117.
Although Hitchens is often considered to be primarily a landscape painter, the still life genre was one which occupied him consistently throughout his career and produced a number of important paintings. From the studio still life paintings of the early 1930s, through the sumptuous flowerpieces of the war years and on to the vibrant, jewel-like paintings of poppies from his later years, the subject provided Hitchens with, like his landscapes, an opportunity to continually explore an ever-changing theme.
Probably dating to the mid 1940s, this work comes from a period when Hitchens was able to paint with a good deal more freedom than before, and not only because of the ending of WWII. In 1944, Hitchens had come into contact with Howard Bliss, the younger brother of the composer Sir Arthur Bliss. An exceptionally enlightened but modest collector of contemporary art, Bliss built up the most important collection of Hitchen's works, and by the late 1940s already owned over fifty of his paintings, along with important early works by Scott, Heron, Craxton and others. The two men became firm friends and Bliss' championing of Hitchens and the attendant financial security helped to nurture one of the most productive and successful phases of his career.
In his still life paintings of the 1930s, Hitchens had experimented with the reduction and fragmentation of the image, but in the works of the late 1940s, this is taken a step further, using splashes of colour and broad gestural strokes to build up the composition. The setting of these flowerpieces before a door or window was a compositional device that appears frequently in the still life paintings of around 1943-44, and the present work is close to a number of works of this date, particularly Flower Group, 1943 (Coll. Sheffield City Art Galleries), Blue Vase (Coll. Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea) and Balcony View, Iping Church 1943 (Coll. Courtauld Institute, London).
Dimensions: 61 by 61cm., 24 by 24in.