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Ivon Hitchens - Figure in Shade No. 2, 1959

Ivon Hitchens

Figure in Shade No. 2, 1959

Oil on canvas: 20(h) x 30(w) in / 50.8(h) x 76.2(w) cm
Signed lower right: Hitchens; titled, dated and inscribed on the artist’s label attached to the stretcher: “Figure in Shade No.2” / 1959 / by Ivon Hitchens /Greenleaves Petworth Sussex

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BY 151

 

IVON HITCHENS

London 1893 - 1979 Petworth

 

Figure in shade no.2, 1959

 

Signed lower right: Hitchens; titled, dated and inscribed on the artist’s label attached to the stretcher: “Figure in Shade No.2” / 1959 / by Ivon Hitchens /Greenleaves Petworth Sussex

Oil on canvas: 20 x 30 in / 50.8 x 76.2 cm

Frame size: 26 x 36 in / 66 x 91.4 cm

 

Provenance:

Basil Jacobs Fine Art, London;

from whom purchased in 1971 by a private collector, UK

 

Nude figure compositions are comparatively rare in Ivon Hitchens’s oeuvre. Because of his rural isolation in West Sussex, he was dependent on the all-too-rare availability of a professional model. When he did find one, as in 1959, he made the most of her. Figure in shade no.2, 1959 is part of a group of paintings dating from 1959-60[1], exploring the play of light over a human body and its relationship to interiors and landscapes beyond.

 

Peter Khoroche comments: ‘The thing to notice about the Figures in Sun and Shade is that they are part of a landscape and painted no differently from landscape. Hitchens’s painting language was largely based on his experience of landscape and he adapted it only minimally to his painting of nudes and flowers….Of Figure in shade no.2 the qualities are the swiftness, the sureness and the economy of the painting—the sense of its being caught on the wing emphasized by the large amount of white canvas left untouched—and, as always with Hitchens, the freshness of colour’.

 

Hitchens, as Tom Rosenthal has explained, was ‘wry and amusing about the paucity of nudes in his work. He always explains how difficult it is to get models down from London; how infinitely more difficult to keep them amused and awake while he paints them; and how impossible it is to explain to them why he has to desert them in a probably under-heated studio, because he has just seen a new conjunction of hitherto familiar landscape through the window and must abandon the girl, at least temporarily, in order to record it before the memory fades’[2].

 

We are grateful to Peter Khoroche for his assistance with the cataloguing of this painting.

IVON HITCHENS CBE

London 1893 –1979 Petworth

 

 

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] Among them are Figure in sun; Figure in shade no.1; Woman with knees up; Two figures resting, interior, orange sunlight (all four shown at Hitchens’s solo exhibition at the Waddington Galleries in June 1960); Summer nude against purple and pink; Interior, red sunlight; Interior, yellow sunlight and Resting nude no.3.

 

[2] Cited in Alan Bowness (ed.), Ivon Hitchens, Lund Humphries, London 1973, p.14.

 

Other Works By
Ivon Hitchens:

Ivon Hitchens - River at Avington No.1 Ivon Hitchens - Arched trees - upward and inward movement Ivon Hitchens - Monument in a Forest