Ivon Hitchens

Autumn Composition, Flowers on a Table


Ivon Hitchens 1893–1979
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 781 × 1111 mm
frame: 940 × 1270 × 60 mm
Presented by Mrs Mary Hitchens, the artist's wife 1977

Display caption

In this painting Hitchens used a palette knife, rags to wipe away paint and vigorous brush strokes to create an active surface. Painted in his Hampstead studio this work ‘dates from the kind of surroundings and the period of [Hitchens’s] urban life - from about 1920-40 before the full impact of nature and country living.’ The shallow space and overlapping forms suggest the influence of the post-cubist still lifes of Braque. So does the use of accents of colour that punctuate an otherwise sombre painting. The strength of the colour, however, is more suggestive of Matisse.

Gallery label, September 2016

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Catalogue entry


Inscribed ‘Hitchens’ b.r. Two labels on the crossbar of the stretcher state: ‘“Autumn Composition, Flowers on a Table”/by IVON HITCHENS/Greenleaves, Petworth, Sussex’ and ‘Ivon Hitchens/169 Adelaide Rd. N.W.3./30 7/8 × 43 1/2/Composition/50 Guineas’
Oil on canvas, 30 5/8 × 43 3/4 (78 × 111)
Presented by Mrs Mary Hitchens 1977
Exh: New Paintings by Ivon Hitchens, Alex. Reid & Lefevre, October 1933 (28, ‘Composition’, repr.); Ivon Hitchens, a retrospective exhibition, Tate Gallery, July–August 1963, Bradford City Art Gallery, August–September 1963, Birmingham City Art Gallery, September–October 1963 (9, repr.); Hampstead in the Thirties, Camden Arts Centre, November 1974–January 1975 (41a)
Lit: John Piper, catalogue foreword for New Paintings by Ivon Hitchens, Alex. Reid & Lefevre, October 1933 (first page, n.p.); T. G. Rosenthal, Alan Bowness, ‘Ivon Hitchens’, London 1973, p.27, repr. p.37.

In a letter (3rd July 1978) to the compiler, the artist wrote: ‘The subject and execution of this work dates from the kind of surroundings and the period of my urban life - from about 1920–40, before the full impact of nature and country living.’

At this time, Hitchens was living and working in Hampstead, at 169, Adelaide Road, and a photograph dating from 1933 (Lund Humphries, op. cit.) shows T02215 on an easel in his studio.

When originally exhibited, the painting was titled ‘Composition’ and the artist has confirmed that its current title stems from the time of his retrospective exhibition, held at the Tate Gallery in 1963. First shown in the exhibition New Paintings by Ivon Hitchens, held at the Lefevre Galleries in October 1933, T02215 is one of a series of large still lifes painted during this period which are marked by a bolder, more abstract treatment of subject than is apparent in Hitchens's works of the previous decade. (Other examples are ‘Cineraria No 1’ (1933) and ‘Floral Still Life’ (1932)).

Hitchins had been a member of the 7 and 5 Society since 1922 and T02215 reflects the lyrical use of colour and freedom of brushwork which characterised the style of this group. At the same time, a systematic approach to the building of the picture space, by the application of flattened planes of colour and the box-like compositional structure anticipates Hitchen's more formally abstract works of later in the decade.

This entry has been read and approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979

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