Artist biography

English painter. She trained at the Ipswich School of Art, Suffolk (1962–4), and in London at the Camberwell School of Art (1964–7) and the Slade School of Fine Art (1967–9). In 1969 she received a Boise Travel Award to New York. Hambling's reputation was formed by a major series of portraits of the celebrated British comedian Max Wall, produced while she was the first Artist-in-Residence at the National Gallery, London (1980–81), and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in 1983. The vivid observation in numerous paintings and charcoal sketches encapsulated her direct and committed engagement with her subject, interpreted in dynamic and bravura impressions. In the mid 1980s she turned to landscape painting, made in her native Suffolk. Her studies of dawn in the Orwell Estuary recall the luminous visions of the 19th-century English masters J. M. W. Turner and John Constable. In works from the early 1990s a violent symbolism disturbs dreamlike compositions; whirlpools of primal colour revolve around the image of a fractured moon in elegies of spectral radiance. Hambling not only worked from life and the model but also drew on memory and her subconscious imagination to escape the limits of documentary realism.

Maggi Hambling: Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours (exh. cat. by M. Warner and others, London, Serpentine Gal., 1987)
Maggi Hambling: An Eye through a Decade, 1981–1991 (exh. cat. by M. Gooding and G. Melly, New Haven, CT, Yale Cent. Brit. A., 1991)
Maggi Hambling (exh. cat., interview J. Collins; Sunderland, A. Cent., 1993)

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