Dunford Stream in April, No.1 signed 'Hitchens' (lower right) oil on canvas 43 x 144.9 cm. (17 x 57 in.) Painted 1954-62
PROVENANCE: Acquired directly from the artist by the present owners
The present work is the first of two known paintings of this title, the second being numbered as such and dated to the same period of 1954-62 (see Peter Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2007, p.146, pl.118). Dunford Stream in April No.2 was sold at auction for £20,900 on 10 November 1989.
Whilst painting this work, Hitchens was invited to show twenty pictures at the 1956 Venice Biennale. This would have given him a huge confidence boost, having only ever previously being asked for three or four examples for such exhibitions. It also presented the first opportunity for his work to become fully recognised outside of England. The show was well received and the British Council were implored to send it on tour, which they did - to Vienna, Munich, Paris and Amsterdam. Two years later he was awarded a CBE and in 1963, a year after completion of Dunford Stream in April No.1, Hitchens was honoured by the Arts Council with a retrospective at Tate Gallery, aspects of which were subsequently shown at Bradford City Art Gallery and Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery. For him, this was the ultimate acknowledgement but ever a shy man "Hitchens, in his midnight-blue, velvet smoking jacket with a red rose sticking out of the breast-pocket, was half-aghast, half-amused by all the fuss, of which he was the innocent cause" (Op.Cit., p.147).
The present lot is a fully realised and successful example dating from a time of extraordinary professional achievement for the artist. Painted on a large scale and acquired directly from the artist, the work is rich with a fresh variety of colour and full dynamic brushstrokes. The Sussex landscape comes alive as our vision is directed up, down, across, back and forth over every inch of the canvas.