Lot 40
  • 40

Richard Hamilton

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Richard Hamilton
  • Hommage À Chrysler Corp. (a)
  • signed
  • gouache, ink and collage over a lithographic base
  • sheet: 380 by 560mm.; 15 by 22in.
  • Executed in 1957, the present work is one of three recorded variants on the same lithographic base, one held in the Kunstmuseum, Winterthur and the third in a Private Collection, London.


Ronald Hunt, from whom acquired by Colin St John Wilson, 2nd May 1974 for £975


London, Tate Gallery, Richard Hamilton, 12th March - 19th April 1970, cat. no.26 (another version shown);
Middletown, Connecticut, Davison Art Centre, Wesleyan University, The Prints of Richard Hamilton: An Exhibition Organised by Wesleyan University in Conjunction with Petersburg Press, London and New York, 28th September - 4th November 1973, cat. no.7 (another version shown), with North American tour.


Etienne Lullin, Richard Hamilton, Prints and Multiples 1939 - 2002, Kunstmuseum, Winterhur and Richard Verlag, Düsseldorf, 2003, cat. no.49, pp.52-55 (another version illustrated).

Catalogue Note

Let us imagine for a moment that as you look to the facing page, you are seeing this image as it was when new, fresh from the artist’s hands. You suddenly find yourself as a hip young guy or girl, very much in tune with the avant-garde. You go to parties at the ICA and have friends at the RCA, you hang out in the Soho pubs, jazz clubs and coffee bars. Maybe you’ve met Francis Bacon or Lucien Freud at The Colony Room (I’m letting you be interesting enough to get in past Muriel). Its London in 1957, Anthony Eden has just resigned as Prime Minister in the wake of the Suez debacle, a young American singer named Elvis Presley is starting to make a name for himself and England’s cricketers have beaten the West Indies 3-0, aided by record breaking performances from the 25 year old Colin Cowdray. Britons are finally beginning to shake off the privations of the post-war years. Refrigerators, new cars and indoor toilets are becoming things that the average worker can reasonably expect to be able to afford, even if it is on credit. Socially, Britain is still a relatively traditional place, maybe not as static as it had been earlier in the century, but very much a conservative society. But you’re hip, you know the way you and your friends are looking at American movies, hearing the sounds, seeing the styles? Maybe you’ve even read Howl?

So what on earth would you make of this work, seeing it as your 1957 self? It references the slick and sexy lines of an American luxury car, an unimaginable extravagance for virtually all those you know; it hints at international modernism, to which your only real exposure might be the clean and unadorned planes of contemporary architecture; it embraces that luscious desire for something, anything, that advertising men want you to want too. But wait a minute, that’s how it feels when we look at it now! If it is still possible to see and feel the echoes of those things in 2012, just how explosively potent must have it have felt in 1957?

Perhaps the first thing that could mark it out from anything else your 1957 self might know is what isn’t there. It is a very spare image. Shapes emerge, delicate washes of colour burnish and develop them. You detect yourself reflected in the silvered collage. And yet you can immediately see what’s going on. It’s like you’ve suddenly found a shorthand language for the modern, desirable, fun consumer goods you see endlessly in magazines and adverts. Just how much do you wish you could have a curvy, chrome-embellished American car too? It’s even rose coloured!

So just what is it that the 1957 Richard Hamilton is showing the 1957 you? Maybe not a great deal less than the very same things that will still be influencing you as the main tenets of art in fifty years’ time? As the decades between then and now peeled away, your sense of what constituted a progressive and modern tendency in art would begin to adopt exactly these concepts, until we now look at the big stars of the contemporary art world and see how important these ideas have become, even if it’s so you can kick against them. Maybe 1957 wasn’t so conservative after all.