Ivon Hitchens

Coronation

1937

Artist
Ivon Hitchens 1893–1979
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 902 x 1219 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1965
Reference
T00728

Not on display

Display caption

Painted in the summer of 1937, shortly after the Coronation of George VI, this picture is one of a number of experimental or near abstract works painted by Hitchens at this time. The subject of the painting, perhaps flowers in the garden, has been reduced to its simplest shape and form. This abstract vision was partly influenced by Georges Braque's post-cubist still lifes. The artist chose the title because it suited the regal colours he had used and referred to things 'in the air' at the time. But he warned that, 'It would be unwise to seek for any more direct symbolism'.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Ivon Hitchens 1893-1979

T00728 Coronation 1937

Inscr. ‘Hitchens’ b.l.
Oil on canvas, 35½ x 48 (90 x 122).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1964.
Exh: Arts Council, Tate Gallery, July–August 1963 (19, repr. in colour); R.A., 1965 (22).
Repr: R.A. Illustrated, 1965, p. 23.

The artist wrote from Lavington Common (24 March 1965) that ‘Coronation’ was painted in the summer of 1937 after the Coronation of George VI, and that his wife thought it had been exhibited at the Zwemmer Gallery either in 1937 or 1938, but no record of this has been traced: ‘There were a number of experimental or near abstract works “tried out” at that time, some of which never saw the light of day, and about then we began to throw roots here. This side tracked me into observing nature more closely... In the confusion of the bombing... it was lucky that particular canvas reached here and survived the muddle and lack of space here—when many canvases were just buried in the sand to dispose of them and make space.’ In a further letter (5 April 1965) he added: ‘The title was suitable because of its colours and occasioned perhaps by the events “in the air” at the time—and the two “forms” in the blue panel. It would be unwise to seek for any more direct symbolism.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1964–1965, London 1966.