Patrick Heron (1920-1999)
Hyacinths and Cedar, Godolphin: 1950
signed and dated 'P. Heron/50' (lower left)
oil on canvas
20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.7 cm.)
Acquired direct from the artist by the sculptor, Reg Butler, 1950, and by descent.
R. Seddon, Studio, 'British Landscape since World War I', Vol. CXLVIII, no. 739, October 1954, p. 103, illustrated, as 'Cedars at Godolphin'.
London, Redfern Gallery, Recent Paintings by Patrick Heron, April - May 1950, no. 21.
London, Redfern Gallery, Summer Exhibition, 1950, no. 221.

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André Zlattinger

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Lot Essay

1950, the year that the present work was painted, saw the development of Heron's work into 'a decisively personal manner in which the primary influences on his approach to figurative presentation were integrated into a style indisputably and unmistakeably his own' (M. Gooding, Patrick Heron, London, 1994, p. 66). Artists such as Picasso and Braque, the latter of whom Heron had visited in the Frenchman's studio the previous year, and whose work Heron had so articulately reviewed in his role as art critic, were major influences on his work.

The objects and situation that make up the still life subject in Hyacinths and Cedar, Godolphin: 1950 are typically modest: the open window with a view beyond, the pot and plants. Heron's choice of such simple subject matter is mirrored in the Cubist painters' treatment of the still life subject, as well as those of Matisse and Bonnard. Through Heron's use of blocked areas of bold colour to depict humble everyday objects - here witnessed in the glowing ochre and lemon yellows, and the rich, metallic greys - and through pattern - such as the diamond design that depicts the draped curtain on the left side of the window - he flattens the picture plane. He leaves areas of the white, primed canvas unpainted to create distinctions of space between objects, creating a suggested sense of depth. The dominance of these formal elements of the painting in the present work suggest that the subject and focus of the painting is not so much the objects within the still life but the colours and his treatment of them, as well as the spaces between the objects - in other words, the abstract qualities of the picture. Gooding describes this as 'the magical transformation of familiar things into poetic relativities - "the relationship between things" in the parallel reality of the painting' (ibid.).

Also shown at the Redfern Gallery's 1950 exhibition of Heron's recent paintings, alongside the present work, was Portrait of T.S. Eliot, 1949, now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

In the year that Heron painted Hyacinths and Cedar, Godolphin: 1950, it was acquired by the sculptor Reg Butler.

We are very grateful to Susanna Heron for her assistance in preparing the catalogue entry for this lot. The Patrick Heron Estate is preparing the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work and would like to hear from owners of any work by the artist for inclusion in this comprehensive catalogue. Please write to Susanna Heron, c/o Christie's, 8 King Street, London. SW1Y 6QT.

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