Catalogue entry

Henri Hayden 1883-1970

T00818 Echecs en Ochre (Chess-Board in Ochre) 1961

Inscribed 'Hayden | 61' b.l.
Oil on canvas, 23 1/4 x 36 (73 x 91.5)
Presented by Victor and Mabel Waddington through the CAS in memory of Eliza Heygate 1966
Prov: Victor and Mabel Waddington, London (purchased from the artist 1963)
Exh: Henri Hayden: Soixante Ans de Peinture 1908-1968, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, May-June 1968 (83, repr.)

The artist wrote (8 May 1966) that this was a picture he had originally intended to keep for himself. It was painted shortly after another still life with a chess-board against a green background, 'Green Chess-Board' 1961, which was sold by the Waddington Galleries in 1962 to an American private collector. Although he used chess-boards as a motif in 'The Chess Players' of 1913 and in several still lifes, there was no series strictly speaking.

The tables in his still lifes are, he said, related to a plastic problem which preoccupied him. 'First of all, to my mind, my tables are tables without being so. They are flat coloured surfaces taking vaguely the form of a table superimposed on another flat coloured surface forming the ground - this is a way of creating space. The table itself is only suggested, the objects seem to the spectator to be resting on a flat surface (table?). Sometimes I add certain attributes of a table (legs, ornaments, sculpture) in order to reinforce the suggestion.

'There is certainly a connection with my cubist paintings in which the supports (the table, stools ...) were always very distinct. And in my cubist works I already had recourse to attributes - a realistic accent used to reinforce an allusion to an object (a label on a lozenge = bottle, an eye or a moustache on a square = a figure, for example).'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.357, reproduced p.357