Heron [Ardea Cinerea]

Maggi Hambling (1945 - )

Sugar-lift aquatint

1993 / 1994

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© Maggi Hambling

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Image of Heron [Ardea Cinerea]
  • About the work

    Heron is from the portfolio Nine London Birds published in 1994 by the Byam Shaw School of Art to raise funds towards its student scholarship and bursary fund. Maggi Hambling was one of the nine artists who contributed to the portfolio, alongside other leading British artists including Prunella Clough, Patrick Caufield and Paula Rego. Each artist represented a bird associated with London, not as records of their species, but as close observations of each bird’s quirks and character.  


    With deft strokes, Hambling brings out the innate ‘heron-ness’ of her chosen bird. Perched on a branch, huddled into its feathers, it fixes us with a close, watchful eye. Herons frequently feature in Hambling’s work: in the early 1980s, while first Artist-in-Residence at the National Gallery, she worked on a series of portraits of the British comedian Max Wall near the end of his life. During this period she wrote to Wall, often describing the herons in Battersea Park:


    'They are full of contradictions. A majestic wingspan and stately flight, incongruous, trailing, stick-like legs, and an over-balancing act whenever they land…Neck erect, the heron is elegantly exotic, neck retracted it has the comic appeal of a crusty old judge'.


    Hambling found an affinity between this characterful bird and the ageing comedian – her 1982 painting, Encounter (in the collection of The Minories, Colchester) features Wall and a heron gazing at each other by Battersea Park lake.

  • About the artist
    Painter and sculptor Maggi Hambling CBE was born in Suffolk. She studied at Ipswich School of Art (1962-4), Camberwell (1964-7), and the Slade School of Art graduating in 1969. In 1969 she also received a Boise Travel Award to New York. She made a series of celebrated portraits of British comedian Max Wall while Artist-in-Residence at the National Gallery, London (1980-81). In the mid 1980s she made many dramatic landscapes of her native Suffolk. Her best known if controversial public works are a memorial to Oscar Wilde in central London and Scallop, a 4 metre high steel sculpture of two interlocking scallop shells on Aldeburgh beach dedicated to Benjamin Britten. In 1995 she was awarded the Jerwood Painting Prize (with Patrick Caulfield).
  • Explore
    England, London
    Materials & Techniques
    aquatint, sugar lift
  • Details
    Heron [Ardea Cinerea]
    Portfolio Title
    Nine London Birds
    1993 / 1994
    Sugar-lift aquatint
    height: 40.50 cm, width: 30.00 cm
    Purchased from the Byam Shaw School of Art, June 1994
    below image: 9/80 / Hambling '93
    GAC number