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Patrick Heron - Round table against the sea : 1949

Patrick Heron

Round table against the sea : 1949

Oil on canvas: 36 x 20 (in) / 91.4 x 50.8 (cm)
Signed and dated lower right: Patrick Heron / 49

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Headingley 1920 - 1999 Zennor

Ref: CB 120


Round table against the sea : 1949


Signed and dated lower right: Patrick Heron / 49

Oil on canvas: 36 x 20 in / 91.4 x 50.8 cm

Frame size: 44 x 28 in / 111.8 x 71.1 cm






Private collection, UK, acquired from the 1952 Wakefield exhibition, then by descent



Wakefield, City Art Gallery, Retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings by Patrick Heron, 5th April-3rd May 1952, no.42; this exhibition travelled to Leeds, The University, 10th-24th May 1952; Halifax, Bankfield Museum, 31st May-28th June 1952; Scarborough, The Art Gallery, 19th July-10th August 1952 and Hull, The Ferens Art Gallery, 30th August-21st September 1952



Vivien Knight (ed.), Patrick Heron, John Taylor in association with Lund Humphries, London, 1988, illus. pl.14

Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, London, 1994, p.66


This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Patrick Heron’s oil paintings, currently under research by Dr Andrew Wilson and Dr Robert Sutton. 



Round table against the sea : 1949 belongs to a series of mature early works by Patrick Heron on the theme of interiors and windows, using conventional subject matter in a figurative style to explore the dynamic expression of pictorial space with a new freedom of colour and line. Heron recalled: ‘The feeling of a sort of marriage of indoor and outdoor space, through the aperture of the window frame, itself roughly rectilinear and parallel to the picture surface, was really the main theme of all my paintings – or nearly all – between 1945 and 1955’ (cited in Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, London, 1994, p.74).


The interior and window most likely depict the front room at 3 St Andrew’s Street, directly on the sea wall in St Ives, looking out across the bay towards Godrevy lighthouse, where Heron and his wife spent part of every year after their marriage until moving permanently to Cornwall in 1955. Heron clearly and confidently describes the assembled objects and their idyllic coastal setting with his bold curvilinear line which leads the eye up, down and across the vibrant surface. In counterpoint to the upward thrust of the vertical canvas and window frame, Heron delights in the rhythmic rhyming of curves established by the round table of the title (also the title of a work painted a year later in the Arts Council collection), and the fantastically flat fish, throughout the painting, from the backs of the chairs, to tendrils of the plant and the fluttering sail. In the spaces left by this dancing grid, Heron painted planes of pure colour, their brilliance enhanced by borders of white-primed canvas.




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