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Harrow Hill (I)

Keith Vaughan, 1972

WAG 2005.21

About this object

This painting presents a topographical view of the Essex countryside surrounding the row of artists’ cottages Vaughan had purchased in 1964, called Harrow Hill. It is the first in a series of paintings which directly reference the name of the property in their title. The dynamic composition of angular lines and dispersed rectangular forms in muted colours, suggests a working landscape of farmers fields punctuated by isolated barns and farm buildings. Both the style of the painting and the thick gestural brush stokes show the influence of Paul Cézanne and Georges Braque. During this period, Vaughan had shifted significantly further towards abstraction, leaving the places and people he painted practically unrecognisable.

Vaughan’s journals reveal that he had originally brought and refurbished Harrow Hill, not so much as a weekend retreat from the city, but as a means of temporary relief and sexual freedom from an increasingly suffocating relationship. Vaughan practically exiled his long-term partner Ramsay McClure there after realising how destructive the relationship had become for both men, only allowing him to return to their home in Belsize Park with advanced permission. McClure’s banishment was so complete that he even lived in an unheated garden shed whilst the refurbishment was taking place. This meant that Vaughan was free during the week to continue both his painting and his self-satisfaction rituals interrupted. He was also able to pursue his occasional sexual relations with the young working class men he was so attracted to, without fear of recrimination. He would then return to visit McClure and paint the surrounding countryside on a weekend. He viewed the landscape surrounding the cottages as the ideal, unspectacular and relatively compact, combination of air, earth and water for his smaller paintings.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    Harrow Hill; Harrow Hill I
  • Artist(s)
    Keith Vaughan (British: English, born:1912-08-23, died:1977-11-04)
  • Date
    1972
  • Materials
    Technique = Oil; Material = Board
  • Measurements
    46.5 cm x 52.1 cm; 18 5/16 in x 20 1/2 in
  • Physical description
    Abstract composition in green, muted browns and greys
  • Related people
    Nancy Balfour (Previous owner); Contemporary Art Society (Donor); Keith Vaughan (Artist/maker); Brian Willis (Collector, previous owner); Greg Worth (Donor and Collector, previous owner)
  • Credit line
    Given in memory of Brian Willis by Greg Worth, from their collection, through the Contemporary Art Society in 2005
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Brian Willis

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 2005-11
    Disposal method: Gifted to the Walker Art Gallery, through the Contemporary Art Society
  • Greg Worth

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 2005-11
    Disposal method: Gifted to the Walker Art Gallery, through the Contemporary Art Society
  • Nancy Balfour

    Owned from: 1972
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded

Inscriptions

Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: 149 Keith Vaughan b. 1912 d. 1977/ Harrow Hill I 1972/ 18 x 15 3/4 / 45.7 x 40/ Signed/ Exhibited: Waddington Galleries, London 1972/ DOnated by Miss Nancy Balfour
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Backboard
  • Inscription text: The Waddington Galleries/ Title Harrow Hill I 1972/ oil 18 x 15 3/4 ins/ Artist Keith Vaughan/ Owner Miss Nancy Balfour
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Backboard
  • Inscription text: Harrow Hill (I)/ 18 x 15 3/4/ 1972
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Backboard
  • Inscription text: HARROW HILL 1972 (I)/ 18 x 15 3/4/
    Inscription method: Ink
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Back
Object view = Fine Art
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