Lot 317
  • 317

Howard Hodgkin

150,000 - 250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Howard Hodgkin
  • Travelling
  • signed Howard Hodgkin, titled TRAVELLING, dated 1961 (on an Artist's label attached to the reverse)
  • oil on canvas
  • 127 by 132cm., 50 by 52in.


London, ICA Gallery, Two Young Figurative Painters, 14th February - 24th March 1962, cat. no.3.


Michael Auping, John Elderfield, Susan Sontag, with catalogue by Marla Price, Howard Hodgkin Painting, Thames and Hudson in association with The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, 1995, p.142, cat. no.20;
Marla Price, Howard Hodgkin The Complete Paintings: Catalogue Raisonné, Thames and Hudson, London, 2006, p.52, cat. no.20.


The original canvas undulates slightly at the upper and lower left corners, but otherwise appears sound. There is some paint loss at the extreme edges of the work. This is particularly prominent at the upper right and lower left corners. There is a horizontal line of abrasion at the top of the composition which appears to be consistent with rubbing from the stretcher bar. There is some craquelure across the work, including in the dark green pigment of the hills and in the area surrounding the figures. This has resulted in some paint cupping and lifting in an area to the right of the figures. There is some surface dirt and studio detritus across the surface of the work. With the exception of the above the work appears to be in good and original condition. Ultraviolet light reveals no obvious signs of fluorescence or retouching. The work is presented unframed. Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Travelling reflects a lifelong interest in experiencing other places. Of all countries, Hodgkin’s travel in India has become synonymous with his painting and his experiences there certainly inform some of his best work. He confided to David Sylvester: ‘I think my main reason for going back to India is because it is somewhere else...’ (interview with David Sylvester, 1982, Howard Hodgkin, Landseer/Arts Council Film). His Indian journals have only recently been published to mark the exhibition Howard Hodgkin Painting India at the Hepworth Wakefield and it comes as no surprise that his own personal travel writing is highly evocative:

‘Out of the airport, wonderful air, bright sunshine and completely flat land to the horizon. Straight out of the edges of the plain came silhouettes of hills. Then the upward ascent of thirteen numbered hairpin bends through valleys filled with betel trees, blue gum, and as we went higher still, tea. Brilliant technicolour light and then soft hill after soft hill with contour line terracing and after several false alarms, such as Wellington (a town filled with churches in all styles, including what looked like Russian) we arrive in Ooty’ (26 January 1975, journey from Coimbatore to Ooty, ‘India Journals’, Howard Hodgkin Painting India, exh.cat., Hepworth Wakefield, 2017, p.87).

Hodgkin had, however, experienced ‘somewhere else’ from an early age - he was evacuated to the United States during the Second World War (1940-43) and his instinct to become a painter was honed through visits to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where he was inspired by his first-hand experience of Picasso, Matisse and Stuart Davis. 

Seen within the context of the artist’s own collection, Travelling takes on an added significance. The importance of travelling ‘somewhere else’ was undoubtedly an essential component of his life and work. But his personal collection also reveals his passion for journeying elsewhere through the kaleidoscope of objects from different geographies and histories that were brought together in his London home. 

Sold to benefit the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras
Hodgkin was a great admirer of the conductor John Eliot Gardiner, who founded the Monteverdi Choir in 1964. The two men were first cousins, as John Eliot's mother Marabel was sister to Howard's father, Eliot. Howard was delighted when John Eliot chose to reproduce his work as CD covers, when he recorded the Brahms symphonies, but also saw an analogy between his paintings and Stravinsky. Howard was due to see the Monteverdi trilogy at La Fenice, Venice, in June 2017, before he fell ill.