Harold Hitchcock

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Harold Hitchcock (23 May 1914 - 8 August 2009), born Raymond Hitchcock, [1] was an English visionary landscape artist.


Born in Camden Town, London into a family of artists (descended from the animal artist George Stubbs on his mother’s side), Harold was inspired to paint as a result of an ecstatic experience he had as a young boy whilst living with his grandparents in the Essex village of Thundersley. At the age of 16 he was hailed in the press as a child prodigy as a result of the enthusiasm of Dame Laura Knight for his work. He went into commercial art.

Camden Town inner city district of London

Camden Town, often shortened to Camden, is a district of northwest London, England, 2.5 miles (4.1 km) north of Charing Cross. It is the administrative centre of the London Borough of Camden, and identified in the London Plan as one of 34 major centres in Greater London.

George Stubbs 18th-century English artist

George Stubbs was an English painter, best known for his paintings of horses.

Thundersley human settlement in United Kingdom

Thundersley is a district and an ecclesiastical parish based on a manor of early origin in the north of the Castle Point Borough, in southeast Essex, England. The settlement, between the size of a typical village and town, is clustered and sits on clay ridge shared with Basildon and Hadleigh, 31 miles east of Charing Cross, London.

In the Second World War, as a conscientious objector in the Non-Combatant Corps, he volunteered for bomb disposal work. He continued to paint and in 1945 was given an exhibition of his work by Margaret Torrie, who was very influential on the London art scene at that time running the International Arts Centre in west London. Margaret and her husband Alfred, both Quakers, later introduced Harold to the spiritual movement Subud, which had a profound effect on his life and work.

A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion.

The Non-Combatant Corps (NCC) was a corps of the British Army composed of conscientious objectors as privates, with NCOs and officers seconded from other corps or regiments. Its members fulfilled various non-combatant roles in the army during the First World War, the Second World War and the period of conscription after the Second World War.

Subud is an international spiritual movement that began in Indonesia in the 1920s, founded by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. The basis of Subud is a spiritual exercise called the latihan kejiwaan, which was said by Muhammad Subuh to represent guidance from "the Power of God" or "the Great Life Force". He claimed that Subud was not a new teaching or religion, and recommended that Subud members practice an established religion; he left the choice of religion up to the individual. Some members have converted to Islam; others have found that their faith in and practice of Christianity or Judaism, for example, has deepened after practising the latihan. There are Subud groups in about 83 countries, with a worldwide membership of about 10,000.

After the war and now married, Harold enjoyed much success selling his work at the Hampstead open-air exhibition. and in 1964 he gave up commercial work to concentrate on his own painting full-time. He came to the attention of Hastings, 12th Duke of Bedford, who became a patron, giving Harold an exhibition at his palatial home. Woburn Abbey. Major London exhibitions followed as did a widening market for his work in the US. His work was admired by art establishment figures of the time, including Kenneth Clark and Sir Roy Strong, then director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1984 Hitchcock was given the rare honour of a retrospective exhibition at the RSA gallery in London.

Hampstead affluent area of London, England

Hampstead, commonly known as Hampstead Village, is an area of London, England, 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Camden, it is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland. It has some of the most expensive housing in the London area. The village of Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom.

Duke of Bedford owner of Woburn Abbey

Duke of Bedford is a title that has been created six times in the Peerage of England. The first and second creations came in 1414 in favour of Henry IV's third son, John, who later served as regent of France. He was made Earl of Kendal at the same time and was made Earl of Richmond later the same year. The titles became extinct on his death in 1435. The third creation came in 1470 in favour of George Neville, nephew of Warwick the Kingmaker. He was deprived of the title by Act of Parliament in 1478. The fourth creation came 1478 in favour of George, the third son of Edward IV. He died the following year at the age of two. The fifth creation came in 1485 in favour of Jasper Tudor, half-brother of Henry VI and uncle of Henry VII. He had already been created Earl of Pembroke in 1452. However, as he was a Lancastrian, his title was forfeited between 1461 and 1485 during the predominance of the House of York. He regained the earldom in 1485 when his nephew Henry VII came to the throne and was elevated to the dukedom the same year. He had no legitimate children and the titles became extinct on his death in 1495.

Woburn Abbey occupying the east of the village of Woburn, Bedfordshire, England, is a country house, the family seat of the Duke of Bedford

Woburn Abbey occupying the east of the village of Woburn, Bedfordshire, England, is a country house, the family seat of the Duke of Bedford. Although it is still a family home to the current duke, it is open on specified days to visitors, along with the diverse estate surrounding it, including the historic landscape gardens and deer park, as well as more recently added attractions including Woburn Safari Park, a miniature railway and a garden/visitor centre.


His work is purely imaginative - often depicting, in fine detail, a romantic mythological world of idealised beauty, suffused in light, and reminiscent of the 17th-century painter Claude Lorraine. However, his art often has a peculiarly English quality following in the tradition of artists such as William Blake (in his adoption of a personal mythology) and particularly Samuel Palmer in his depiction of a pastoral idyll. His use of light also recalls the paintings of J.M.W. Turner. Remarkably unaffected by modern trends in art, he follows his own unique inner vision, working in a spontaneous way with great technical skill.

William Blake English poet and artist

William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. What he called his prophetic works were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. While he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich œuvre, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God" or "human existence itself".

Samuel Palmer British landscape painter, etcher and printmaker (1805-1881)

Samuel Palmer Hon.RE was a British landscape painter, etcher and printmaker. He was also a prolific writer. Palmer was a key figure in Romanticism in Britain and produced visionary pastoral paintings.

Later works have additionally included a more figurative and semi-abstract style, but without sacrificing the prismatic jewel-like quality of light and colour seen in the landscapes.

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  1. Obituary, Guardian, 16 August 2009