Statue in Courtyard circa 1959
Oil on canvas
33 x 60 in : 84 x 152 cm

A sculpted female torso in a studio interior was the subject of a painting shown
at Hitchens’ first solo exhibition in 1925. Fifty years later the presence of a statue in a landscape painting, lending it an extra dimension and mystery, still appealed to the artist (eg. A Sibylline Courtyard 1974 in the Courtauld Institute collection).
There is certainly an extra dimension of mystery in the present painting, since
the statue depicted in it is in fact based on a living model, while the river and buildings in the left half seem to be drawn from the imagination.
Laying aside the probably unanswerable question of sources, let us accept the painting for what it is: a complex and powerful composition which, somewhat against the odds, imposes itself on the imagination.
Both halves of the picture provide a welcome reminder of the too easily overlooked element of drawing in Hitchens’ work. On the left we get a rare glimpse of the detailed structure, or armature, that underlies the sweeping brushstrokes and patches of colour in most of his works; on the right an
example of his fluent and vital figure drawing, which can be seen in the many
ink or charcoal studies he made in preparation for his large mural paintings
in the 1950s and early ‘60s. Peter Khoroche