Overview

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Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property of an Important European Collection
Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979)

Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot

Details
Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979)

Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot

stamped twice with studio stamp (on the reverse)

oil on canvas
29 x 23½ in. (73.8 x 59.7 cm.)
Painted in 1934.
Provenance
with Waddington Galleries, London.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 22 November 2002, lot 75.
with Richard Green, London, where purchased by the present owner in May 2003.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, Ivon Hitchens, London, Waddington Galleries, 1985, no. 2, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Ivon Hitchens : forty-five paintings, London, Serpentine Gallery, 1989, pp. 29, 63, no. 3, illustrated.
P. Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens, Aldershot, 2007, pp. 65, 200, no. 49, illustrated.
Exhibited
London, Waddington Galleries, Ivon Hitchens, September 1985, no. 2.
London, Serpentine Gallery, Ivon Hitchens: forty-five paintings, October - November 1989, no. 3: this exhibition travelled to Edinburgh, City Art Centre, December 1989 - January 1990; Preston, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, January - March 1990; and York, City Art Gallery, March - April 1990.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Anne Haasjes
Anne Haasjes

Lot Essay

Executed in 1934 by Ivon Hitchens, Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot depicts the corner of a table, on which – under the blooming umbrella of daffodils and other flowers – a blue teapot rests. The picture evokes an image of homely comfort and contemplation. Hitchens portrayed the flowers without contours nor shading, transforming the bouquet into an intricate pattern of forms and colours, which stands in stark contrast with the background, itself flattened into a series of planes and lines. Besides its subject-matter, Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot can be appreciated for its abstract, formal qualities: the subdued orchestration of the picture’s tonalities, the dissolution of space into flat areas of colours, the pleasant asymmetry brought by the blue form of the teapot.

In 1934 – the year Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot was painted – Hitchens participated in the exhibition Objective Abstraction at the Zwemmer Gallery, London, the first exhibition in England of exclusively abstract works. Works such as Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot, however, show that Hitchens never entirely abandoned representation itself. Yet, a series of statements released that year, on occasion of that very exhibition, reveal that the artist’s approach to representation was indeed quite ‘abstracted’ from any proper concern about content. Although he admitted working from nature for his landscape and still-life paintings, Hitchens defined the aim of his paintings as: ‘To extract and show clearly in line, tone, colour and plane the unity of appearance, the visual harmony of life, wherein each part is relative to the whole. This is usually a visual reaction to nature, but at times becomes a psychological one’ (quoted in P. Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens, Aldershot, 2007, p. 52). Despite their naturalism, pictures such as Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot shows how Hitchens – an admirer of Roger Fry – approached nature as a construction of forms and colours, as an abstract entity which painting could capture in its geometric, linear, pattern-oriented visual essence. Hitchens’ later abstract art would indeed develop out of this tension between representation and structure, reducing an observed reality to it formal essence.

In its subject-matter, however, Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot is also a testimony to Hitchens’ sincere passion for flower paintings. ‘I love flowers’, Hitchens stated. ‘I love flowers for painting […] One can read into a good flower picture the same problems that one faces with a landscape, near and far, meanings and movements of shapes and brush strokes. You keep playing with the object’ (quoted in T.G. Rosenthal, Ivon Hitchens, pp. 7-19, in A. Bowness, (ed.), Ivon Hitchens, London, 1973, p. 13). Hitchens would continue to paint flowers throughout his entire career. When already in his eighties, Hitchens wrote to Peter Khoroche about ‘the compelling need to have a go at the spring flowers’. Almost forty years after having executed Spring Flowers with Blue Teapot, Hitchens’ passion for the subject had not waned: ‘Already the daffodils are upon me & the call comes…’ (quoted in exhibition catalogue, Ivon Hitchens 1893-1979: The Flower Paintings, London, 2007, n.p.).
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