45. Fox Hunting Scene
24.4 x 34.5cm. Canvas with new frame
On the reverse is written c. 1975-6, and though not in Ivor's hand, this seems accurate. It is one of at least three hunt studies which he painted in taking up his art again after his wife's death. In adjusting to life alone, he seems to have sent his thoughts back to his childhood and the vivid impressions it left on his memory. Ivor had no personal involvement in hunting and his interest in painting hunt scenes would have been purely in the animals and the human activity within a landscape. With his love of animals, if he had been questioned on the ethics of hunting, he would almost certainly have sided with the fox. The hunt provided spectacle in the countryside of the border rather in the way that speeding fire engines do in sleepy towns. That the finest horses and hounds in the district were on show would have impressed the experience on his visual memory. Like other boys of his generation, he would have enjoyed witnessing, without charge, a display of animals not bred for the dining table. He later never talked about hunting and seemed not to have had strongly held views on the subject, so it is unlikely that his hunting scenes were chosen to have a particular moral message. The gathering of the hunt provided him with a valuable motif, and he took full advantage of the visual possibilities that groups of riders, dogs and onlookers presented to him. Composing from memory, he had a free hand in designing his picture, in which he used the strips of ground to create something of a stave on which to place his visual notation. Because this painting is not a representation, each item has to justify its presence in the composition only by criteria which are internal to it. The dogs, especially, with their finely lifted tails, are choreographed to create a set of variations which hold and reward the viewer's attention.