N05558 UNDERGROWTH 1941
Inscr. ‘Eliot Hodgkin’ b.r.
Tempera on canvas, 16 1/4×14 1/2 (41×37).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1943.
Exh: R.A., 1943 (584).
Lit: Maxwell Armfield, ‘Eliot Hodgkin: Painter in Tempera’ in Studio, CXXXIV, 1947, p.39, repr. p.37 (in colour).
Painted in London in 1941 during the artist's ‘days off’ while serving as an air-raid warden, from drawings of plants and flowers made near Purley, Berkshire. He began painting in tempera in 1937 and this was the eighth tempera painting he did (letter of 31 October 1957).
The artist wrote in the R.W.S. catalogue, 1946: ‘Why tempera? ...Because tempera enables me most nearly to achieve the effects I am aiming at. What I want to paint are the things that have been seen so often that people no longer notice them - or, if they are noticed, are no longer thought beautiful: such things as an old boot washed up by the tide, cabbages growing, a ruined room carpeted with snow, a tangle of weeds. I try to show these things exactly as they are, yet with some of their mystery and poetry, and as though seen for the first time. And it seems to me that, in trying to depict “a World in a grain of sand”, perhaps the best medium is tempera, because it combines clarity and definition with a certain feeling of remoteness.’
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I