Ivon Hitchens

River Rother, near Stedham

Oil on canvas: 18(h) x 43(w) in /

45.7(h) x 109.2(w) cm

Signed and dated lower left: Hitchens / 1964; signed, dated and inscribed on the artist’s label attached to the stretcher: "River Rother near Stedham" / 1964 / by IVON HITCHENS PETWORTH SUSSEX

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BV 193

 

IVON HITCHENS CBE

London 1893 – Petworth 1979

 

River Rother, near Stedham

 

Signed and dated lower left: Hitchens / 1964; signed, dated and inscribed on the artist’s label attached to the stretcher: “River Rother near Stedham” / 1964 / by
IVON HITCHENS

PETWORTH SUSSEX

Oil on canvas: 18 x 43 in / 45.7 x 109.2 cm

Frame size: 27 x 52 in / 68.6 x 132 cm

In a gessoed coloured and gilded frame

 

Provenance:

Waddington Galleries, London

Private collection, UK

Richard Green, London, 2002

Private collection, UK

 

 

‘The quiet River Rother meanders gently from above Petersfield in Hampshire, past Midhurst in Sussex, and on to Stopham and beyond—through the entire stretch of Hitchens’ painting territory. In the interludes of painting he would choose some favourite spot to fish in its waters. The long hours of relative inactivity gave him time to absorb the scene, so that when he returned to it, exchanging rod and line for his more cumbersome painting gear, he already had a good idea of his subject. Though this chosen stretch of river was only the starting point for an essay in abstract colour composition, the look and feel of it was an essential stimulus, as well as a control, in the build-up of the picture. For Hitchens a painting had to be about something—something felt, something recollected from past experience, above all something seen.’[1]

 

Peter Khoroche remarks, ‘one place to which he returned constantly…was Woolbeding, near Midhurst…Most often this was down beside the river Rother which flowed placidly beyond the avenue of pleached hornbeam at the end of the garden. He loved this secluded spot, still and quiet, the water overhung by trees.’[2]

 

Ivon Hitchens, River Rother, dark evening, 1951

Oil on canvas: 46 x 108.7 cm.  Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

 

IVON HITCHENS CBE

London 1893 – Petworth 1978

 

Sydney Ivon Hitchens was the only child of artist Alfred Hitchens and Ethel Margaret Seth-Smith, a talented amateur artist. Following his early education at Conamur School, Sandgate, Kent, Hitchens attended Bedales School, Hampshire from 1903 until acute appendicitis cut short his school days and sent him on a recuperative voyage to New Zealand. Hitchens’ art education began at St John’s Wood School of Art, London from 1911 and continued at the Royal Academy Schools from 1912-16. He returned to the RA Schools between 1918-19, following two years’ service in hospital supply during the First World War. Still not fully recovered from his youthful illness, Hitchens was declared unfit for active service in 1916.

 

After graduating from the RA Schools, Hitchens moved into a studio at 169 Adelaide Road, Hampstead in 1919 and later became part of a circle of avant-garde British artists including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Paul Nash and Ben Nicholson living in Hampstead in the 1930s. In 1920 he exhibited at the first exhibition of the Seven & Five Society, becoming a member that same year. Hitchens was elected a member of the London Artists’ Association in 1929, of the London Group in 1931 and of the Society of Mural Painters in 1937. The artist exhibited with the Leicester Galleries from 1940 until 1960, when he moved to the Waddington Galleries.

 

Hitchens married Mary Cranford Coates on 27th June 1935.  He and his wife left London in 1940 with their only child, John, for a caravan at Greenleaves, Lavington Common near Petworth, Sussex, after a bomb landed next door to his Hampstead studio. For the next forty years, Hitchens’ six acres of woodland near Midhurst became his home, place of study and constant source of inspiration. 

 

In 1951 the artist won a purchase prize at the Festival of Britain exhibition, 60 paintings for ‘51.  Hitchens completed a mural at Cecil Sharp House, Regent’s Park Road in 1954, and installed another mural at the University of Sussex in 1962.  In 1956 the British Council arranged a retrospective exhibition of his work for the Venice Biennale.  In 1957 Hitchens was created CBE. A major retrospective of Hitchens’ work was arranged by the Arts Council at the Tate Gallery, London in 1963. In 1979 a third retrospective exhibition was held at the RA Diploma Galleries.

 

[1] Peter Khoroche on Rother Evening, 1968.

[2] Peter Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens, London, 1990, p.92.

Post War BritishIvon Hitchens