Obituary: Harry Hambling

Harry Hambling, bank cashier and artist: born Snape, Suffolk 1 February 1902; married 1933 Marjorie Harris (died 1988; one son, two daughters); died Ipswich 22 January 1998.

On his retirement at 60, Harry Hambling's daughter Maggi (herself one of Britain's leading artists) gave her father a set of oil paints. It was not until five years later that he found himself using them, but once started he didn't stop.

For the next 30 years there existed a friendly rivalry between father and daughter, each contending for the best sales and the most fervid reviews. When they shared an exhibition at the Minories in Colchester in 1988, many comments in the visitors' book favoured Harry above Maggi; luckily this never ceased to amuse both of them.

Harry Hambling enjoyed seven solo shows of his work, and exhibited twice at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. His last four shows, all in the 1990s, were entitled "A Suffolk Eye", thus drawing attention to his ability to match a particular moment with an exact sense of place. His paintings, mostly oil on board, were based on observation adapted by imagination.

Although untaught, he possessed a brilliant sense of pictorial design, and could be as compositionally sophisticated and daring as an artist like Patrick Caulfield. He was not a naive or primitive painter, but a natural who developed into something of a visionary. As his work grew more assured, the colour grew more intense, and Hambling - who relished a touch of drama - became adept at flaming Turneresque sunsets and thunderheads of cloud. He was equally good at the hazy blue of a linseed field or wild bluebells amidst gorse and silver birches. Being essentially practical, he was quite happy to trace with charcoal around a real fish to get its shape right in a picture. Or to turn the picture upside down when painting grass, so that the natural thinning out of the brushstroke captured the shape of the grass-blades. Certain subjects recurred: leafless oak-trees, rape fields, still-lifes, haystacks in mist.

A Suffolk man through and through, Hambling lived nearly all his life in his beloved town of Hadleigh. After leaving Northgate School in Ipswich he joined Barclays Bank and remained with them until his retirement in 1962, working briefly in the Ipswich branch before transferring to Hadleigh.

There he lived with his family in a charming house on the High Street, with long gardens running down to the river. Hambling was a keen gardener, winning prizes for his onions and cultivating a profusion of plants and flowers. He was an active man, inventive as well as energetic. He founded Hadleigh Football Club and was a keen tennis player and bowls champion. Though he was in his seventies at the time, he was elected the first Hadleigh Sports Personality of the Year. A talented amateur actor, he considered his finest role to have been that of the school teacher in Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version. He was involved in local politics and also founded and played for the Hadleigh Bridge Club.

His paintings are owned privately by George Melly, Delia Smith and Paul Bailey among others as far afield as Australia and America. Public collections include Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, and Barclays Bank. As one admirer pointed out: "Mr Hambling, your pictures are for the discerning."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Life and Style
Kissing
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test