Ivon Hitchens British, 1893-1979


Ivon Hitchens (3 March 1893 – 29 August 1979) was an English painter who started exhibiting during the 1920s. He became part of the 'London Group' of artists and exhibited with them during the 1930s. His house was bombed in 1940 during World War II, at which point he moved to a caravan on a patch of woodland near Petworth in West Sussex. He worked there for the next forty years, gradually augmenting his caravan with a series of buildings. He is particularly well known for panoramic landscape paintings created from blocks of colour. There is a huge mural by him in the main hall of Cecil Sharp House. His work was exhibited in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1956.


Ivon Hitchens was born in London in 1893, son of the painter Alfred Hitchens.  After education at Bedales, Ihe studied art at St John's Wood and the Royal Academy Schools, where he was influenced by John Singer Sargent and William Orpen, although this is not readily apparent in his mature work.  Later notable influences were the French Post-Impressionists Cézanne, Braque, and Matisse. 


Hitchens had his first one-man show at the Mayor Gallery in 1925, ater showing at Tooth's the Lefevre and Leicester Galleries.  He was a member of a number of forward-looking groups before World War II, including the 7 & 5 Society, London Artists' Association and LG. 


He moved to Sussex from London in 1940 and gradually became famous for his long, rural scenes which used bold, sweeping brushstrokes, increasingly bright colours, and efged gradually towards abstraction. 


Hitchens completed a number of notable murals -- at Cecil Sharp House in London, and for several universities.  He is widely represented in public galleries around the world, with his works being held by British institutions that include The Tate Gallery, The Courtauld Institute of Art, and the Fitzwilliam Museum; and abroad by the likes of The Art Gallery of Ontario, The National Gallery of New Zealand, and the Seattle Art Gallery.  There were several retrospective exibitions during his lifetime including at The Tate in 1963, at The Royal Academy in 1979, and at Serpentine Gallery in 1989.  


1893 Born in London, the son of painter Alfred Hitchens and Ethel Margaret Seth-Smith. As a result of illness he spent two years in New Zealand, travelling via Sri Lanka and Australia.
1911-12 Studied at St John’s Wood School of Art, London.
1912-19 Attended the Royal Academy Schools, London, for a total of four years. Lived and worked in Primrose Hill, London.
1920-35 Member of the 7&5 Society (which was re-named the 7&5 Abstract Group in 1935). Hitchens exhibited in group exhibitions of members’ work.
1924 Visited Paris.
1925 Visited Winifred and Ben Nicholson in Cumbria.
Mayor Gallery, London - first solo exhibition. During the 1920s and 30s Hitchens exhibited various London galleries including Heal’s Mansard Gallery; Lefevre Gallery; Arthur Tooth & Sons, Zwemmer Gallery (‘Objective Abstractions’, a group exhibition in 1934).
1931 Elected to the London Group.
1940 After his house was bombed he moved from Primrose Hill to Petworth, W Sussex.
Leicester Galleries - solo exhibition, the first of ten - Hitchens continued to show there until 1959.
1945 Temple Newsam, Leeds - Retrospective exhibition with Henry Moore.
1948 Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield - Retrospective exhibition.
1951 ’60 Paintings for ‘51’ Arts Council Festival of Britain exhibition, won Purchase Prize.
1953 Metropolitan Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.
1956 Gimpel Fils, London.
XXVIII Venice Biennale - British Pavilion, work shown subsequently in Vienna, Munich, Paris and Amsterdam.
1958 Created CBE.
1960 Waddington Galleries, London - solo exhibition, exhibitions here continued after the artist's death in 1979.
1963 Arts Council, Tate Gallery, London - Retrospective touring exhibition.
1964 British Council touring exhibition (New Zealand).
1964-78 Exhibitions in Southampton, Manchester, New York, Worthing, Newcastle, Brighton and in London.
1978 Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne - Retrospective touring exhibition.
1979 Royal Academy, London - Retrospective touring exhibition.
        Hitchens died on 29 August.
1989 Serpentine Gallery, London - Retrospective touring exhibition.
2007 Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

Since his death in 1979 Ivon Hitchens’s work has been exhibited in the UK and internationally.

Ivon Hitchens's work can be found in public collections in Australia, Canada, USA, France, New Zealand, Scandinavia and South Africa.


Public collections in the UK that hold Ivon Hitchens work include:

Tate Gallery, London
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The Courtauld Institute, London
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham