20th Century British Art
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Harold Hitchcock (b. 1914)

Painter in watercolour and gouache, born in London as Raymond Hitchcock, whose pictures are of a visionary nature and have been called "the visual embodiment of Jung's philosophy". Financial problems prompted Hitchcock's parents to send the children to live with the maternal grandparents in Thundersley, Essex, where in a cultured environment he began to paint at the age of nine. At Thundersley he had a vision "of harmony and well-being and peace" which influenced his subsequent development, his painting being an attempt to recapture this. Back in London aged 13 he began painting imaginary natural landscapes. His work was seen by the painter Laura Knight and he was called a child prodigy, but he entered a long period doing commercial artwork - broken by service during World War II as a non-combatant, volunteering for bomb disposal - which often left him depressed. For years was plagued by trigeminal neuralgia until surgery in 1958 cured this. In 1947 had first public showing of his work at the International Art Centre; by 1964 was able to give up commercial work; in 1965 had an exhibition at Woburn Abbey, his picture The Mill being purchased for the Lidice Memorial Museum, Czechoslovakia; and in 1967 had first major retrospective at RI galleries. Had a successful tour of America in 1969. Hitchcock's pictures owe much to those of Claude Lorrain and J M W Turner, being idealised, lightdrenched landscapes peopled with mysterious figures. Essentially self-taught, he employed a form of automatism as advocated by Andre Breton. Hitchcock's joining the Subud Brotherhood, a religious-type group, in 1960 was a profound influence. Lived in Ugborough, Devon.

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