ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe

autumnal equinox

c. 1949

Oil on canvas. 80 x 32in. (205 x 82cm.) Signed, titled and dated ’49 on the stretcher. Provenance Sotheby’s, studio sale, 24 April 1985, lot 540. Sotheby’s, 25 July 1985, lot 54. With Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London. Christie’s, 15 Nov. 2006, lot 73, ill. col. Exhibited London, Suffolk St. Galleries, 1949. Bradford, Cartwright Hall, 1953, no. 286. Penzance, Newlyn Gallery, 1961, no. 3. Exeter, City Art Gallery, 1972, no. 12. Penzance, Newlyn Gallery, 1976, no. 18. London, Murray Feely Fine Art, 1992. Literature “Daily Mirror”, 19th Feb. 1949, ill. b/w front page. Colquhoun is quoted as saying that whilst she was staring at her studio door, suddenly ‘a huge figure seemed to walk straight out of the door and advance towards me.’ The photograph shows the painting being carried into the Suffolk St. Gallery. In Colquhoun’s article in “Athene”, (1951) she states that the work was inspired by the artificial wood graining of a painted door, of which she made a rubbing. This explains the large dimensions of the work. Ratcliffe, 2007, ill. col. pl. 80. Ratcliffe has two plates numbered 80: this is the second. Seeking to heal the rifts among the Surrealists in London, Colquhoun offered Autumnal Equinox to Roland Penrose for an exhibition entitled 40,000 Years of Modern Art. However, it was refused. The exhibition was held in 1948, although the painting is dated 1949 in the Exeter and Penzance exhibition catalogues and the Sotheby’s and Christie’s sale catalogues. The spring and autumn equinoxes occur when the equator is in the direct path of the sun, so that day and night are of equal length. A large number of feasts and festivals occur around the autumn equinox, a time for harvest and preparation for winter.