Head of Department
Blazing a Trail / Ithell Colquhoun (British, 1906-1988) Madonna 101.6 x 60.6 cm. (40 x 23 7/8 in.)
£5,000 - £8,000
Private Collection, U.K.
Berlin, Kunstamt Wilmersdorf, Ithell Colquhoun: Paintings, September 1969, cat.no.22
Bristol, The Arts Centre, Ithell Colquhoun: Paintings, Constructions, Collages, 11 July–1 August 1970, cat.no.17
Plymouth, City Museum and Art Gallery, Newlyn Past and Present, 12 April-7 May 1972, cat.no.46
Penzance, Newlyn Art Gallery, Ithell Colquhoun: Surrealism, Paintings, Drawings, Collages 1936-76, 27 February-23 March 1976, cat.no.24
The painting is signed not with Colquhoun's name but with a monogram – the letters S and V inside a circle. It's a tradition in many spiritual organisations for a person to adopt a new name when they join, to symbolize their new spiritual identity. In 1952, when Colquhoun started studying for membership of a magical society, the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), she chose the name "Splendidior Vitro", more sparkling than crystal, indicating her personal search for purity and clarity. In 1962 she began signing all her works with a monogram derived from her magical motto.
An ink study is in the Tate archives.
We are grateful to Richard Shillitoe for compiling this catalogue entry.