Private Collection

Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)

Crane Flowers (Bird of Paradise or Strelitzia reginae)

SKU: 11297
Signed and dated, oil on canvas, 20 x 13 3⁄4 in. (51 x 35 cm). On loan from RAW (Rediscovering Art by Women)

Height – 51cm
Width – 35cm



According to Frank Rutter’s introduction to ‘Exotic Plant Decorations’, Ithell Colquhoun’s first solo show in London (which included Crane Flowers as No.2):
‘Few things are more difficult than to paint flowers with distinction.To call these ‘flower-paintings’ might easily be misleading: plant-paintings would be more correct, for this artist is never content to paint the mere flower – decapitated from its living structure and immured in a bowl or vase – but always prefers to paint the whole plant, as it grows. She has made a special study of tropical and sub-tropical vegetation, from bananas to water-lilies, both at Kew and in Tenerife, and the paintings in this exhibition testify eloquently to her feeling for the life of the flower, for the living plant.They do more. Both in their clear- hewn design and in their very individual colour, they reveal evident talent for decoration’.

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Ithell Colquhoun
1906 - 1988

Ithell Colquhoun studied at Cheltenham Art School (1925’7) and
the Slade School of Fine Art (1927’31), winning joint first prize
with Elizabeth Leslie Arnold (1909′ 2005) in the 1929 Summer
Composition Competition. 

After discovering Surrealism in Paris in 1932, she held her first
solo exhibition at Cheltenham Art Gallery in 1936 and in 1939
joined the British Surrealist Group, showing alongside Roland
Penrose (1900’1984) at the Mayor Gallery that June. She was
particularly interested in automatic painting and how it could unlock
not just the unconscious mind but also the mystical. 

Despite her expulsion from the English Surrealist Group
in 1940 due to her increasing preoccupation with the occult,
Colquhoun remained active in Surrealist circles ‘ she was married to
Toni del Renzio from 1943’48. She wrote and illustrated numerous
books, including The Living Stones: Cornwall (1957), and exhibited
at the Leicester Galleries and with the LG and WIAC. She took part
in several Surrealist retrospectives in the 1970s, including a solo show
at the Newlyn Gallery in 1976, and the terms of her will bequeathed
her studio (over 3000 works) to the National Trust.


Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)
Crane Flowers (Bird of Paradise or Strelitzia reginae)
Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)
Highland Landscape, 1965
Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)
Hyacinth and Cyclamen
Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)
Autumnal Equinox
Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)
La Cathédrale Engloutie, circa 1950
Ithell Colquhoun (1906 - 1988)
Past and Future, circa 1950