Although Hitchens is often considered to be primarily a landscape painter, the still life genre was one which occupied him consistently throughout his career and produced a number of important paintings.
From the studio still lifes of the early 1930’s, through the sumptuous flowerpieces of the war years and on to the vibrant, jewel-like paintings of poppies from his later years, the subject provided Hitchens with, like his landscapes, an opportunity to continually explore an ever-changing theme.
Dating to 1946, this work comes from a period when Hitchens was able to paint with a good deal more freedom than before, and not only because of the ending of WWII. In 1944, Hitchens had come into contact with Howard Bliss, the younger brother of the composer Sir Arthur Bliss. An exceptionally enlightened but modest collector of contemporary art, Bliss built up the most important collection of Hitchen’s works, and by the late 1940’s already owned over fifty of his paintings, along with important early works by Scott, Heron, Craxton and others. The two men became firm friends and Bliss’ championing of Hitchens and the attendant financial security helped to nurture one of the most productive and successful phases of his career.
In his still life paintings of the 1930’s, Hitchens had experimented with the reduction and fragmentation of the image, but in the works of the late 1940’s, this is taken a step further, using splashes of colour and broad gestural strokes to build up the composition.