Edward Middleditch RA (1923-1987)

In the 1950s Middleditch devoted himself mainly to painting natural themes. His work over the following decades concentrated chiefly on the elements: from the weight of a huge hillside to the lightness of sunshine on water or darting through foliage. Inspired by kilims and Persian carpets, his work became increasingly abstract and stylised. He also used stencilling to create decorative patterns.

In 1973 Middleditch was elected a member of the Royal Academy and from 1984-1986 he held the post of Keeper of the Royal Academy, in charge of the Schools.

Edward Middleditch RA (1923-1987), Tree in Blossom, 1956


Oil on Hardboard
50 x 40 in (127 x 102 cm)

Collections: Bought by Alastair Boyd, later 7th Lord Kilmarnock (1927-2009) at The Beaux Arts Gallery exhibition in 1956; Brian Sewell (1931-2015) by 1987 and thence by descent to the present day

Exhibited: Beaux Arts Gallery, London Edward Middleditch February,1956 (11); Venice Biennale, The British Pavilion Quattro Giovani Pittori Inglesi,1956 (36) pp 10-11,17; Sheffield City Art Galleries The Forgotton Fifties 1984 (42a ill): The Exhibition toured to the Norwich Castle Museum, The Herbert Museum, Coventry and The Camden Arts Centre, London; RA British painting 1952-77,1977(257); The South Bank Centre Edward Middleditch 1987-88 (23-repr. Back cover):The Exhibition toured to The Castle Museum Norwich, University Art Gallery Nottingham, Art Gallery Sudbury, Mappin Art Gallery Sheffield , Art Gallery Plymouth and The Serpentine Gallery, London

This extensively exhibited picture was shown first at the Beaux Arts Gallery in London in February 1956 and later in the same year at the XXVIII Venice Biennale in the young painters section of The British Pavilion. Middleditch showed alongside his fellow RCA graduates John Bratby, Derrick Greaves and Jack Smith-the so called ‘Kitchen Sink’ group.
The movement, whose name was coined in an article by David Sylvester, reaches its apogee in the 1956 Biennale. The artists were diverse in nature but shared what J.P.Hodin in the catalogue of the Exhibition described as a desire, in the face of the dominance of Abstract art, ‘’to re-gain firm ground for the objectively visible world’’.

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