The Jardinière signed and dated 'P.Heron/48' (lower left) oil on canvas 76 x 63.5 cm. (30 x 25 in.)
PROVENANCE: With The Redfern Gallery, London, 4 December 1948 With the Toulmin family Thence by descent
EXHIBITED: Wakefield, Wakefield City Art Gallery, Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Patrick Heron, 5 April - 3 May 1952, no.38: this exhibition travelled to Leeds, Leeds University (10 May - 24 May), Halifax, Bankfield Museum (31 May - 28 June), Scarborough, Scarborough Art Gallery (19 July - 10 August), Hull, The Ferens Art Gallery (30 Aug - 21 September)
LITERATURE: Vivien Knight (Ed.), Patrick Heron, Lund Humphries, London, 1988, no.7 (ill.b&w)
To be sold along with a copy of the Wakefield City Art Gallery catalogue.
Painted in 1948, The Jardinière was executed at a formative point in Heron's career. Having absorbed for some years the lessons of the French masters, The Jardinière shows Heron maturing as an artist and was painted at a time when his visual language was becoming distinctly his own.
Before the Second World War, Heron had been introduced to Cezanne, Braque and Picasso. Their preoccupation with space was a concern Heron shared and could relate to. From a young age Heron had designed fabrics for his father's company, Cresta Silks, along with other artists such as Paul Nash and Edward McKnight Kauffer. He was naturally dispossessed to be sympathetic to decorative and formal values of painting. On an art history trip to the National Gallery as a teenager he discovered Cezanne and from that point on 'unflaggingly rhythmic design' became of key importance to the young artist (quoted in Michael McNay, Patrick Heron, Tate Publishing, London, 2002, p.16).
However it was an encounter with a work by Matisse that was to have the most profound effect on the artist. Having spent some time tucked away in a dingy Soho nightclub, in 1943 The Redfern Gallery displayed Matisse's The Red Studio (Museum of Modern Art, New York) to the public. Heron visited it and often 'to absorb, in every detail, the revelations of this great masterpiece' (Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, London, 1994, p.56). The colour of the canvas was quite extraordinary and unlike anything else in English painting at the time. It is interesting to note the dominant red of the palette is picked up in the present work in the flooring as seen through the jardinière. As a result of his experience of The Red Studio, Heron became fascinated and drawn to the works of other Fauves, he wrote a book on Vlaminck in 1947 and visited the Rouault exhibition at the Tate Gallery held in 1946. The brilliant light that Heron exerienced on a trip to Provence in 1948, whilst staying at the family home of Francis Davison, encouraged Heron to finally experiement with Fauvist colour and the heightened tones of the palette of The Jardinière, with its brilliant lemon yellow, flourescent orange, blood red and zesty green would suggest it was highly influenced by this visit.
Colour was to remain Heron's primary concern throughout the rest of his career. However the lessons learnt from synthetic cubism, the shallow space and multiple viewpoints, are still evident in The Jardinière. In 1955 Heron wrote: 'As in the music of Bach, the grandeur of spirit of a great painter is transmitted directly out of the vibrant heart of the formal complex of abstract forms. It is precisely in the abstract harmony of colour and form that the profoundest human thought and feeling finds direct expression. And this is true whether the work be abstract-figurative or non-figurative' (Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, London, 1994, p.56).
In The Jardinière the successful fusion of Heron's concern with space and colour create a vibrant, joyful picture, expressing 'the grandeur of spirit of a great painter' already in the making.