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George Leslie Hunter (1877-1931)
George Leslie Hunter (1877-1931)

Tulips in a blue vase

George Leslie Hunter (1877-1931)
Tulips in a blue vase
signed 'L Hunter' (lower left)
oil on panel
15 x 18 in. (38 x 45.6 cm.)
with Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd., London.
with Duncan Miller Fine Arts, London.
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, Knightsbridge, 21 November 2001, lot 109.
with Portland Gallery, London.
D. Ogston, The Life and Work of George Leslie Hunter 1877-1931, Stichill, 2002, p. 55, pl. 18.

Lot Essay

Everyone must choose his own way, and mine will be the way of colour (G.L. Hunter).

Looking for a greater focus and direction to his work in the early 1920s Hunter heeded the advice of his close friend and eventual biographer Tom Honeyman and concentrated his creative energies on painting still lifes.

In 1923 he exhibited in London for the first time with S.J. Peploe and F.C.B. Cadell, to great acclaim and later that year, again very successfully, with Alex Reid and Lefevre in Glasgow. With this acclaim came financial security that allowed him to travel widely on the Continent. Visiting Florence, Venice, Paris and the South of France where he took a studio in Saint-Paul-de-Vence Hunter became increasingly inspired by the work of Paul Cezanne initially and then the greatest of all Colourists, Henri Matisse. Hunter’s earlier work had looked towards the Dutch Masters for inspiration but these rather tentative explorations gave way to a greater confidence, invigorated by the warmth of the Mediterranean sun and inspired by the many exhibitions and galleries that he had visited on his travels.

In the work of Cezanne he found structure through the building up of simple bold brush strokes and in his still lifes in particular a sophisticated and harmonious pictorial design. It was in the paintings of Henri Matisse however that he really experienced the shear exuberance of colour. He understood that Matisse was not merely reproducing what he saw before him but rather his emotional response to the chosen subject. It was this use of colour to communicate his own personal emotions to the subject that Hunter strived for. The work of Matisse gave him the language to express himself, however the narratives that Hunter subsequently constructed were unmistakably his own. Indeed when Hunter exhibited in New York in 1929, the critic for the New York Evening Post commented that ‘it would be difficult not to think of Matisse at first viewing the exhibition. Yet after looking at it longer one sees that there has been an influence of Matisse, but that here is a new individual palette and personality’.

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