T03295 L'HEURE DU THÉ, ARGENTON-SUR-CREUSE 1980
Inscribed ‘AG 80’ bottom right and on reverse ‘Title L'heure du thé/Argenton sur/Creuse/Anthony/Green/1980’
Oil on hardboard, 78 1/2 × 87 (199.3 × 221)
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1981
Prov: Purchased by the Trustees of the Chantrey
Bequest from the artist through the Rowan Gallery 1981
Exh: RA, May–August 1982 (103)
'L'Heure du Thé, Argenton-sur-Creuse’ is based on memories of Anthony Green when he was on holiday staying with his mother's sister Yvonne and her husband at Argenton-sur-Creuse in France. There he often visited a married couple, friends of his aunt. On occasions he would take tea with the wife whom Green describes as being ‘promiscuous, beautiful, charming and very erotic’; they would drink lemon tea and eat pastries known as religieuses. Green last visited the house in 1956. This painting is about such visits. On the left Yvonne is seen from the back talking to the husband. Through the glass of the conservatory can be seen the statue of the Golden Virgin on the pinnacle of the chapel, which dominates the town. On the right the teenage Green drinks tea. On the mantelpiece is a black clock based on Cézanne's painting ‘The Black Clock’ now in the Niarchos collection. In about 1956, when Green first became acquainted with the picture through an illustration in a book, it seemed ‘wonderful’ to him ‘that Edward G. Robinson should own such a lovely painting’ as he then did.
The centre part of the picture shows the lady of the house naked. This says Green is about adolescent sexuality and ‘what was in my head’. Meeting her he says ‘was the first time I was aware of a woman “as a woman”’. When he took tea with her she was clothed and sitting in a chair, and not in fact lying naked on the dining room table. At no time did Green see her naked.
The format of the painting is irregular. Green has been painting pictures of irregular shapes since 1964 and he sees ‘no reason why paintings should be of regular format’.
This entry, approved by Anthony Green, is based on a discussion between him and the compiler of 3 February 1983.
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984