ROGER HILTONBritish 1911 - 1975

Provenance: Private collection, London

ROGER HILTONBritish 1911 - 1975

Roger Hilton is closely associated with the second generation of artists who settled in St Ives after the Second World War, although he was the last major figure to settle permanently in the region. Hilton is widely regarded as one of the finest, if not the finest, artist from this generation which included Heron, Frost and Lanyon. This opinion, which holds to this day, was evident at the time. Hilton was the only second generation St Ives artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale; his exhibition in 1964 garnered him the UNESCO Painting prize. His work, although often appearing abstract, hovered on the boundaries of figurative representation and pure abstract form. Our work come from a period where his style was particularly abstract, but he always retained an interest in the depiction of the natural environment and the human body - and these forms are alluded to in even his most abstract work. His style stands apart from his contemporaries, but he was always interested in his peers work. Trevor Bell recalls a time when Hilton (at that time both artists were with Waddington's Gallery) barging into his studio and shouting: "BELL - I have come for ideas!"

Hilton was born in Northwood, Middlesex, as Roger Hildesheim (later changed during First World War because of anti-German feeling). He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1929-31, under Henry Tonks. Although he won a Slade Scholarship in 1931 he did not take it up. During the 1930s he studied for periods in Paris, including a spell with Roger Bissière at the Académie Ranson. During World War II he served in the army as a commando before being captured in 1942 and spending 3 years in a prisoner of war camp - an experience not unlike his fiend and contemporary Terry Frost.

Hilton took part in numerous group shows in Britain and abroad, winning first prize at John Moores Exhibition in 1963. A retrospective exhibition was held at ICA in 1958 and several other major public exhibitions followed, not least at the Serpentine gallery in 1974; Leicester Polytechnic Gallery and tour, 1984-5; Hayward Gallery, 1993-4; Tate Gallery St Ives 1997-8.

A notoriously cantankerous man, Hilton's personality was as complex as his imagery. At once capable of great sensitivity and perception, he could also be an outspoken and difficult man. Hilton was an alcoholic and his last years were spent bed ridden in his Cornish home. This period, paradoxically, saw the production of his most colourful and playful works. His paintings can now be found in most significant collections of modern British art.