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Art & architecture, Exhibitions

Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered

Wed-Sun 5 June – 20 Oct, and Mon-Tue 26-27 Aug 2019


Coach House gallery
This is a past exhibition

Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work in nearly thirty years, and aims to return this remarkable British painter to the spotlight where he belongs.

By his death in 1987, Hodgkin (born 1905) was not only a renowned painter of still life subjects and landscapes, but also a collector and the author of a well-received novel. Waddesdon’s retrospective brings together the largest ever exhibition of Hodgkin’s paintings and drawings – nearly 100 – many of which have never been seen in public before.

It also assembles a small group of works by other artists that inspired him, and a number of the objects kept by his family which appear in the paintings.

Hodgkin’s art is greatly prized by collectorsmany of his works are still with the families of the original owners, which means that a large proportion of the exhibition comes from private collections, never usually on public display. There is also a Waddesdon connection to the Rothschild family, who have long been admirers of Hodgkin’s work.

Another significant holding of the artist’s work is to be found at Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire, home to the  collection put together by Harry Hyams and now held in a philanthropic trust. Part of the exhibition will be devoted to an introduction to the history of this extraordinary, but very little-known, house.

Painting of memo papers
R.A. File, Eliot Hodgkin 1963 © Photo: The Estate of Eliot Hodgkin

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

Eliot Hodgkin, 1957

A particular highlight of the exhibition will undoubtedly be a series of twelve intensely arranged fruit and flower compositions dating from 1950/1 – The Months – each representing a month of the year from January to December. These were the centrepiece of Harry Hyams’ collection at Ramsbury Manor and have not been publicly displayed for decades.

Painting of a selcetion of fruit and flowers
The Months, February Eliot Hodgkin 1951 © Photo: The Ramsbury Manor Foundation, photo by AJ Photography

The exhibition also includes a selection of objects used by Hodgkin as props or subjects for his paintings. These include the oil can used for British Railway Oil Cans (1966, Private Collection), ceramics, baskets, feathers, seed cases and snail shells. There are also objects used by the artist himself, including his apron, paintbrushes and a register listing his tempera paintings and who commissioned them.

Painting of feathers
Eight Feathers, Eliot Hodgkin 1960 © Waddesdon (Rothschild Family)

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