Jerwood Foundation

Eliot Hodgkin (1905- 1987)

Pink and White Roses, 1952

  • Details

    Copyright the estate of the artist
    signed and dated 'Eliot Hodgkin June 52' (lower left), signed again and inscribed 'ELIOT HODGKIN/ 22 Queen's Gate Terrace SW../ "Pink and White Roses"'(on a label attached to the backboard)

  • Medium

    tempera on gesso prepared board

  • Dimensions

    13 1/4 in x 8 7/8 in. (33.7 x 22.5cm)

  • Provenance

    Anonymous sale; Phillips, London, 4 December 2001, lot 50, where purchased

  • Literature

    Collection Catalogue, Jerwood Collection, London 2012 p.32.

The painstaking detail that is visible in this exquisite still-life is typical of Hodgkin's work. He described his working method in the Year Book of the Society of Painters in Tempera (1967) which involved painting the background colour away from any area where an object was to be painted. This meant that Hodgkin could then paint the still-life subject matter on a white ground, which kept the colours fresh and bright.

Hodgkin had previously developed a fascination with flowers growing on bomb sites following the war ,finding their fragility contrasted with the destruction seen in the metropolis that time. He produced paintings of poppies emerging in this way from the rubble. However, in general he did not paint flowers very often, saying that “I can….only paint what I have in front of me, if it doesn’t move or fade. I rarely paint flowers because they do both.”

The precision and realism seen in this painting and in Eliot Hodgkin's work in general contrasts greatly with that of his painter cousin, Howard Hodgkin.

Born near Reading. Hodgkin studied at the Byam Shaw School and Royal Academy Schools under Ernest Jackson. Before the war he taught mural painting at Westminster School of Art and around this time executed a number of murals. In 1936 his first one-man exhibition was held at the Picture Hire Gallery in London and the same year the Tate purchased his painting October (1935) from the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. Since around 1937 he worked almost entirely in egg tempera and used a medium based on a recipe given to him by Maxwell Armfield, his friend and former teacher. Hodgkin's work was exhibited regularly in London and in 1958 he showed for the first time in New York, at the Durlacher Gallery. He also wrote a number of books including She Closed the Door (1931) and A Pictorial Gospel (1949).