Howard Hodgkin's paintings from the 1970s usually have a tight geometric composition and allude to some kind of an interior space. In the present work, Hodgkin offers a view into a room where a painting by his friend, the artist Stephen Buckley, is present. Hodgkin painted two versions of a portrait of Buckley and his wife, executed in 1974-76, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Buckley, (Tate Gallery, London) and The Buckleys at Brede, Australian National Gallery, Canberra. The abstract image of this scene made up of circular forms, straight lines and rectangles knits into a tight, compact pattern.
Hodgkin paints intimate pictures in the sense that, people mentioned in the titles of his works have personal relationships with the artist. This work serves as a visual diary for the artist, where his memory of a certain time, place and circumstance compels him to record a fleeting memory or glimpse into the past. In this regard, Hodgkin's paintings share characteristics with the works by Edouard Vuillard, a master of the intimist scenes of Parisian domestic life. Michael Auping remarks upon this similarity: "What we see in a comparison of Hodgkin and early Vuillard is the glimpse of an affinity or sensibility that carries with it a flexibility in the definition of 'representation', a flexibility that Hodgkin takes full advantage of. Hodgkin's vocabulary, having absorbed a century of fragmentation and abstraction, transforms Vuillard's interiors and landscapes into something more dream-like and condensed Hodgkin's marks and gestures have the tactile and animated quality of Vuillard's carefully orchestrated strokes, but they are magnified and thickened, creating an even greater tension between illusionistic space and surface materiality" (M. Auping, "A Long View," op. cit., p. 18.)
Fig. 1 Edouard Vuillard, Woman in Blue with Child, 1899, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum