Arrangement of Jugs, 1938
Lithograph, 45 x 60 cm
Signed lower right
To Myfanwy Evans, 15 May 1940. Studio, West St, Corfe Castle, Dorset.
I was made so happy by what you & John wrote about me and I owe you very particular thanks – it gave to my show all the success I could hope for it ….
In May 1940 Hodgkins thanked writer and art critic Myfanwy Evans and her husband, the painter John Piper, for their encouragement and support. Two years earlier she had produced a lithograph, her only surviving print, which was commissioned by a venture founded by John Piper and Robert Wellington, and which aimed to make quality and reasonably priced original prints available to the public. The actual printing was carried out by Curwen Press, in Plaistow, East London, where the artists drew their images on the lithographic stones and were able to receive technical assistance from Piper. Hodgkins’ Arrangement of Jugs was one of fifteen prints in the second series, launched in March 1938, which also included images by Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Piper. Although an edition of 300 was planned, only about half this number was achieved due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Further to this, few of the completed lithographs were signed by the artists.
Arrangement of Jugs represents an extension of Hodgkins’ interest in the possibilities of colour and form. In addition to a trio of jugs (blue, red and green), this composition includes the two familiar yellow ceramic vases and a modernist green glass vase, a lamp and another less easily identifiable object. As with the earlier watercolour of the same name, elements are reduced to simple forms or outlines, with areas of colour which may relate only loosely to the objects they are describing. As before, the overlapping of objects and the suggestion of their placement on a flat surface adds a sense of depth to the composition. Otherwise, the objects appear to ‘float’ free from the surface of the paper, much of which is left untouched, while in parts – such as on the foreground glass ornament – it shows the granular effect characteristic of the lithographic process. John Piper was complimentary about Hodgkins’ print, considering it ‘the best in the series.’ The artist herself was also pleased with the project – finding it ‘interesting and remunerative as a side line’ – and no doubt especially so when the series, which included her print, was purchased by the British Museum.
In January 1938 Hodgkins exhibited nine works at the Lefevre Galleries, and in September her lithograph, Arrangement of Jugs, was shown at the Leicester Galleries. During the year she also showed single works or small groups of works at three other galleries (including one in Manchester), and two paintings at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in November, but her health was suffering and she feared ‘a complete breakdown’.
To William Hodgkins, 15 October 1938. Worth Matravers, Dorset.
…. Another bit of news is that Peep Bowes only daughter has been married… As Alice was supposed to have artistic leanings I sent her a picture – or rather an auto-lithograph, a new process which a group of 20 artists, myself included, has just produced & exhibited at the Leicester Galleries with very great success. My lithograph was one among a set chosen by the Brit: Museum. I find it interesting & remunerative as a side line to my other work.
Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham
London, U.K. Leicester Galleries. September 1938
Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016
I Buchanan, E Eastmond and M Dunn, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press 2001) p. 150
Janet Bayly (editor), Frances Hodgkins: Kapiti Treasures (Mahara Gallery, Waikanae 2010) p. 36
Published by Contemporary Lithographs Ltd, London 1938
E.H McCormick, Portrait of Frances Hodgkins (Auckland University Press 1981) p. 123
I Buchanan, E Eastmond and M Dunn, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press 2001) p. 151
Janet Bayly (editor), Frances Hodgkins: Kapiti Treasures (Mahara Gallery, Waikanae 2010) p. 3