John Craxton
Cat Pillar

PROVENANCE: Erica Brausen; Hannover Gallery; Jean-Yves Mock (b.1928).

Inscribed cat pillar, red crayon

330 x 202 mm. (13 x 7 7/8 in.)


Painter and designer, John Craxton was born in London, son of the pianist Harold Craxton. When only 10, he had paintings exhibited in schools group at Bloomsbury Gallery. In 1939 he studied life drawing at LAcademie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris, returning to study in 1940 at Westminster School of Art and Central School of Art with P F Millard and Eric Schilsky.

The following year Craxton studied drawing at Goldsmiths College School of Art with Clive Gardiner. About this time Craxton was friendly with Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud and became recognised as a member of the Neo-Romantic group of painters. He had his first solo show at Leicester Galleries, 1944. In 1946 Craxton visited Greece for the first time, whose landscape was eventually to leave its mark on his work. After a joint show with Lucien Freud at the London Gallery in 1947, with whom he had worked in Greece, in 1948 Craxton visited Crete for the first time; in 1960 he rented a house there in Hania which subsequently became his home, although Craxton was an indefatigable traveller in several continents. In 1951 Craxton designed sets and costumes for Daphnis and Chloe at Covent Garden; in 1966 he helped restage it for Athens Festival and completed designs for the ballet Apollo at Covent Garden. Between 1971-4 worked on Landscape with the Elements as the Cottrell Memorial Tapestry for the McRobert Centre, Stirling University. Craxton had a retrospective show at Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1967 and in 1985 a show of paintings and drawings appeared at the Chrysostomos Gallery, Hania; British Council, Athens; and Christopher Hull Gallery. The Tate Gallery and other major collections hold his work. He was elected RA, 1993.

Our drawings come from the collection of Jean-Yves Mock who is an experienced dealer, curator, critic and promoter of artists from Ren Magritte to Louis Nevelson. From 1956 till 1973 he ran the highly influential Hanover Gallery, alongside Erica Brausen, which launched some of the greatest names in twentieth century art. When the gallery closed in 1973 he asked to join the curatorial team at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

According to John Craxton he did this as a gift to a friend1.

1.Written communication 8 September 2006.