Description & Technical information

In 1957, in response to an enquiry from the editors of The Studio magazine, Eliot Hodgkin provided a succinct description of his lifelong interest in still life painting: ‘In so far as I have any conscious purpose, it is to show the beauty of natural objects which are normally though uninteresting or even unattractive: such things as brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide. People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this…For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before.’

As Adrian Eeles has noted of this large sheet, ‘Unusually for Eliot, this drawing is not signed or dated…A guess would be the early 1970s. The three open baskets are filled with gooseberries and cherries. One of the baskets has survived in the Hodgkin family collection.’ A related tempera study of four of the same wicker baskets, signed but likewise undated, is in a private collection.

Medium: Pencil, pen and brown ink and brown wash, and watercolour, with touches of white heightening, on paper laid down on board
Dimensions: 42.3 x 32.9 cm (16⁵/₈ x 13 inches)
Provenance: The estate of the artist
Mimi (Mrs. Eliot) Hodgkin, London, in 1989
Jack (later Sir Jack) Baer, London, by 1990
By descent to his wife, Diana, Lady Baer, in 2019
Her sale (‘The Joy of a Lifetime: The Estate of Sir Jack and Lady Baer’), Stansted Mountfitchet, Sworders, 4 October 2022, lot 80.
Literature: Adrian Eeles, ed., Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered, exhibition catalogue, 2019, pp.146-147, no.86.
Exhibitions: London, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, Eliot Hodgkin, Painter & Collector, 1990, pp.82-83, no.76; Aylesbury, Waddesdon Manor, Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered, 2019, no.86.
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints