William Scott

Four forms, blue on white

Oil on canvas: 40.2(h) x 40.2(w) in /

102.2(h) x 102.2(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed on the artist’s label attached to the stretcher: Four Forms / Blue on White 1971 / W SCOTT

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BT 286



Greenock 1913 – 1989 Somerset


Four forms, blue on white


Signed, dated and inscribed on the artist’s label attached to the stretcher:

Four Forms/Blue on White 1971/W SCOTT

Oil on canvas: 40 ¼ x 40 ¼ in / 102.2 x 102.2 cm

Frame size: 43 x 43 in / 109.2 x 109.2 cm



Hanover Gallery, London

Jean-Yves Mock

Richard Green, London, 2005

Private collection, UK

Fine Art Society, London

Private collection, UK, 2009



London, Tate Gallery, William Scott: Paintings, Drawings and Gouaches 1938-71, 19th April-29th May 1972, no.124

Milan, Falchi Arte Moderna, William Scott, October 1972, no.12



Sarah Whitfield (ed), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings 1969-1989, vol. 4, Thames & Hudson, London, 2013, no.691, p.71 illustrated in colour



In his review of Scott’s retrospective at the Tate in 1972, in which the present work was shown, John Russell noted throughout the artist’s career, ‘a blue of an intensity not common in English art’.[1] A beautiful, resonant blue also characterized Scott’s Berlin paintings of the mid 1960s, referred to by Norbert Lynton as ‘his overture to the magnificent neoclassical still lifes of the 1970s.’


From 1969 to 1972, Scott executed a series of carefully controlled, minimalist still lifes, whose objects are abstracted into succinct silhouettes, hovering weightlessly on flat or softly variegated grounds. Like the highly refined forms, Scott’s application of paint is remarkably restrained, with little sign of the artist’s actions, allowing attention instead to fall on subtle ambiguities and internal tensions between echoing shapes. For Lynton, ‘The clarity of these neoclassical still lifes also addresses our senses as perfection: a few notes cleanly struck, at finely judged intervals…As in the best Neoclassical painting and sculpture, purity is revealed as refined sensuality, austerity as an

acute form of luxury.'[2]


Jean-Yves Mock was a steadfast champion of the avant-garde for almost half a century. A respected dealer, curator, critic and friend of artists such as René Magritte, he worked alongside Erica Brausen at the Hanover Gallery in London from 1956 until its closure in 1973 and helped to launch the careers of some of the most successful artists of the twentieth century.




Greenock 1913 – 1989 Somerset


Born in Greenock, Scotland on 15th February 1913 to an Irish father and Scottish mother, William Scott grew up in Enniskillen, a small town in Northern Ireland. He studied at Belfast College of Art from 1928-31 and at the Royal Academy Schools in London from 1931-35, first in the sculpture school then from 1934 in painting. During his education at the Royal Academy, Scott won a silver medal for sculpture, became a Landseer scholar in painting and on leaving the schools was awarded a Leverhulme Scholarship. In 1936 Scott worked for six months in Mousehole, Cornwall. The following year he married a fellow student at the Royal Academy, Mary Lucas. For the next two years William and Mary Scott travelled and lived abroad, mainly in France, Venice and Rome.  William, Mary and Geoffrey Nelson ran an art school at Pont-Aven in Brittany in the summer months of 1938 and 1939, living for the rest of the year in the south at St. Tropez and Cagnes–sur-mer. In 1938 he was elected Societaire du Salon d’Automne, Paris. He left France in the autumn of 1939, spending a few months in Dublin before returning to London. In January 1941 he took a cottage at Hallatrow, near Bristol, where he ran a market garden and taught part-time at Bath Academy. 


In 1942 Scott was given his first one-man exhibition at the Leger Galley, London. The same year he volunteered for the army and served nearly four years from 1942-6 in the Royal Engineers, during which time his painting practically ceased. While in the map making section, Scott learnt the technique of lithography. In 1945 he illustrated the Soldier’s Verse, chosen by Patric Dickenson with original lithographs by W. Scott. In 1946 Scott was appointed Senior Painting Master at Bath Academy, Corsham. He was elected a member of the London Group in 1949 and in 1953, after teaching at a summer school in Canada, Scott visited New York, where he met Jackson Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko and Frans Kline. In 1958 a retrospective exhibition of Scott’s work was exhibited at the British Pavillion at the Venice Biennale, and he was commissioned to create a large mural for Attnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry. In 1959 he was awarded first prize in the painters section at John Moores Liverpool Exhibition. William Scott died on the 28th December 1989.


[1] John Russell, ‘Objects of magic’, The Sunday Times, 23rd April 1972, p.38.


[2] Norbert Lynton, William Scott, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004, p.317.

Post War BritishWilliam Scott