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Clifford Hall (1904 – 1973)

Clifford Hall in his Chelsea Studio in the late 1950sClifford Hall, a London born painter, studied at Richmond Art School and Putney Art School from 1922-27 after which His first one-man exhibition was held at Therese Lassore’s famous Beaux Arts Gallery in 1935.  The picture right shows Clifford Hall in his Chelsea Studio in the late 1950s.

Subsequently, after the war he exhibited at Roland, Browse and Delbanco, The Anthony d’Offay Gallery and the Belgrave Gallery. His studio contents were sold after his death and his work makes frequent auction room appearances.  Hall’s work can be seen in many galleries, including Bradford City Gallery, the V&A Museum and the Imperial War Museum.

Both Frederick Carter A.R.E. and Clifford Hall were recognised by critics and leading galleries in their lifetime but since their deaths both artists’ work has been neglected.  However, in recent years a slow renaissance of their reputations has taken place; unfortunately, no one has yet published a monograph on Clifford Hall.   Apocalypse Press is interested in doing so and if any reader has knowledge of source material that would assist such an undertaking, please contact us.

Clifford Hall was born in Wandsworth in 1904 but spent his early years around Richmond Park , first in Sheen Avenue, then in Mount Arras Road. He was a pupil at Elm Tree House School, then [in 1914] Richmond Hill School and later Kings College , Wimbledon. In the 1920s he studied at night at Richmond Art School, where Charles Wheeler then taught, and later attended Putney Art School full-time under Stanley Anderson.

From 1926 to 1928 Clifford studied for two years at the Royal Academy Schools where he was influenced by Charles Sims and Walter Sickert [see ‘Sickert:the Painter and his Circle’ by Marjorie Lilly, 1971].  He obtained a number of portrait commissions which, together with the money from a Landseer Scholarship, helped pay for his studio-room at Twickenham.  He painted local scenes at this time.

In 1925 he visited Paris which captivated him and after that first visit he dreamed of living there which he did from 1928.  Edwin John [son of Augustus] had urged him to join him.  Clifford shared a studio with Edwin in Malakoff, a cheap suburb, forty–five minutes walk from Montparnasse.

Clifford and Edwin used to draw in the Cours Libre at the Grande Chaumiere several times a week, and for some time he studied under Andre l’Hote in his studio near the Gare Montparnasse. Hall’s Journal is full of descriptions of the artists and cafes Edwin introduced him to.  Drink and women were the chief interests of those who frequented these ‘artists’ resorts’ in Montparnasse.

One survival tactic was to latch on to wealthy tourists -in search of Bohemia- and get them to buy drinks in the cafes. As long as the customers had a drink in front of them, they could stay all night.

Back in England in the 1930s Clifford tried to earn a living by painting places that he liked: Isleworth, Soho and the Caledonian Market. His first one-man exhibition was held at Therese Lassore’s famous Beaux Arts Gallery in 1935. During the second World war he joined the Stretcher Party located near Lots Road.  Some of the drawings are now in the Imperial War Museum.  His Journal records the gradual destruction of Chelsea and the tragedies befalling its inhabitants as the bombs dropped on the defenceless Londoners.

After the war several one man exhibitions followed and he exhibited at Roland, Browse and Delbanco [1946, 1947, 1950], the Anthony d’Offay Gallery and the Leicester Gallery [1952].  His relationships with women were often complicated and difficult and until his second marriage [to Ann Hewson in 1956] his relationships seemed to add to his worries.  However, his primary problem was lack of money and his Journal chronicles a constant struggle to make ends meet.

From the late 1960s, in the last years of his life, Clifford’s style and his subject matter changed considerably.  He began to paint women, wrapped in towels, faces unseen, on beaches or in interiors – hanting and mysterious pictures.   He seemed to be striving towards something new and meaningful.

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