This rather uninteresting picture by Englishman Roger Hilton (1911-1975) titled May '58, is an oil and charcoal on canvas measuring 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)and was part of the collection of a wealthy Englishman who bought it in 1986 from the Redfern gallery in London (1).
In February and March 1958, Hilton's first retrospective was mounted at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London. For the first time, the mature artistic nature of Hilton was on public display, in a powerful selection of works. The exhibition was a serious and important event which led to the Tate buying its first work by the artist, January 1957 .
Later that year, in July 1958, Hilton was selected to feature in a Critic's Choice exhibition at Tooth's Gallery : it was an eclectic mix, bringing together Francis Bacon, William Coldstream, Victor Pasmore and Roger Hilton making the latter famous. Roger Hilton was a pioneer of abstract art in post-war Britain. He was born in Northwood, London and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London and also in Paris. But he is always connected with St. Ives, and moved permanently to west Cornwall in 1965. By 1974 he was confined to bed as an invalid precipitated in part by alcoholism. His work became less abstract in his later years, often being based on the nude or images of animals.
His fame endured to this day as shows this banal oil/charcoal on convas that fetched this week at Christie's London the high sum of £32,450 ($49,551) beating its lower estimate by almost £8,000 .
(1) Note that the Redfern gallery represents the works by Sarah Armstrong-Jones, the daughter of the late Princess Margaret. Lady Sarah attended the Camberwell School of Art and Middlesex Polytechnic and is a professional painter. She is also Vice President of the Royal Ballet, an appointment she accepted in 2004, following the example of her mother who was a patron of the Royal Ballet.