Catalogue entry


Not inscribed
Oil on hardboard with integral wood surround, 37 1/16 × 49 1/8 (94.6 × 125.1)
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Trustees of the Tate Gallery Trust Fund) 1980
Exh: John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 9, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, November 1978–February 1979 (42); The Artist's Eye, National Gallery, June–August 1979 (12 repr., with the date 1978–9); Howard Hodgkin, Knoedler, New York, April–May 1981 (1, colour); A New Spirit in Painting, RA, January–March 1981 (59, colour); Aspects of British Art Today, Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, February–April 1982, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Utsunomiya, April–May 1982, National Museum of Art, Osaka, June–July 1982, Art Museum, Fukuoka, August 1982, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, September–October 1982 (131, repr.)

Howard Hodgkin painted ‘Dinner at Smith Square’ after dining with long-standing friends who are art-collectors. They were very generous in asking him to dinner frequently once they knew Hodgkin was painting the picture, so that he could refresh his memory of the occasion; once they posed so that he could make drawings of them and of details in the room. That was probably the only time Hodgkin has made such studies of sitters for his paintings.

In the catalogue of his exhibition The Artist's Eye (p.22) at the National Gallery, Hodgkin wrote of ‘Dinner at Smith Square’: ‘Two old friends talking across their table below a small painting by Bonnard. The husband once said “How much more beautiful is a picture in black and white!” I tried to do this, but failed.’

About two years after completing this picture Hodgkin painted ‘After Dinner at Smith Square’ (private collection) in which the composition has much in common with that of ‘Dinner at Smith Square’.

This catalogue entry, approved by the artist, is based on a conversation between him and the compiler (2 November 1983).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984