Lot 21
  • 21

Patrick Heron

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
43,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Patrick Heron
  • January Yellows (Naples & Violet) : January 1960
  • signed, titled and inscribed on the reverse; also inscribed on the stretcher bar
  • oil on canvas
  • 76 by 101.5cm.; 30 by 40in.


Waddington Galleries, London, where acquired by a Private Collector, 11th March 1986
Private Collection, London
Waddington Galleries, London, where acquired by the present owner, 8th February 1991


New York, Bertha Schaefer Gallery, Patrick Heron: New Oils, 2nd - 21st April 1961, cat. no.10;
Norwich, Castle Museum, Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, 7th - 31st December 1961, cat. no.11.


Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, London, 1994, illustrated p.158.

Catalogue Note

The Estate of Patrick Heron is preparing the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the Artist's work and would like to hear from owners of any works by Patrick Heron, so that these can be included in this comprehensive catalogue. Please write to The Estate of Patrick Heron c/o Modern & Post-War British Art, Sotheby's, 34-35 New Bond Street, London, W1A 2AA or email modbrit@sothebys.com

Amongst the many remarkable features of Heron's career was his ability to continually develop and renew his paintings so that each appears both fresh and adventurous. Throughout the 1950s, discernible groupings of work had succeeded each other, and by the very end of the decade, paintings such as Yellow Painting : October 1958 May/June 1959 (Tate, London, T07500) had achieved a remarkable degree of complexity and richness. The present work, January Yellows (Naples & Violet) : January 1960, bears close comparison to the Tate painting, which was recognised by Heron as a ‘great favourite of mine’ (in correspondence to the Tate, 6th January 1999).The deep yellow ground is built up in layers and applied in clear strokes, with streaks where the underpainting shows through, which contrast with the soft-edged simple geometric forms in more earthy tones.

Heron’s technique at this time involved the rapid application of paint which he described as ‘merely pushing fluid painting this way and that, with a blunt brush, until each colour met finally along a blurred and rather fuzzy edge’ (Patrick Heron, quoted in Vivian Knight, The Pursuit of Colour (exh. cat.), Barbican Art Gallery, 1985, p.10). The gesture and action involved in this process led to Heron even using the handle of his brush in the Tate picture to scrape through the wet pigment. The soft edges of the works were of particular importance to Heron at this juncture, for they allowed for a complication of the pictorial plane and composition. His work of this period was particularly well received, with a critic describing Heron in a review of a show at the Bertha Schaefer gallery in New York in 1960 (where the present lot was exhibited the following year) as a ‘juggler, balancing [his squarish shapes] in compositions of momentary equilibrium. Their state of suspended animation gives his pictures their extraordinary lightness despite the positive existence of his forms’ (Stuart Preston quoted in Mel Gooding, Patrick Heron, Phaidon, London, 1994, p.162).