Sir Terry Frost

Olive sun ride

Oil on canvas: 30.2(h) x 34(w) in /

76.8(h) x 86.4(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse: Olive Sun Ride 87 / Terry Frost

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BV 126



 Leamington Spa 1915 – 2003 Cornwall


Olive sun ride


Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse:

Olive Sun Ride 87 / Terry Frost

Oil on canvas: 30 ¼ x 34 in / 76.8 x 86.4 cm

Frame size: 31 ¾ x 35 ¾ in / 80.6 x 90.8 cm

In a gessoed tray frame



Roger Mayne (1929 -2014), acquired directly from the artist in the late 1980s, then by descent



Celebrating the bright sunshine and olive groves of the Mediterranean, Olive sun ride, 1987, belongs to a joyful series of paintings incorporating Cyprus suns and black olives, leading David Lewis to declare: ‘this man has transformed English art. He has brought joy and radiance. The sun and moon shine together. The ocean dances with light. So do his canvases and collages. None of us will ever be the same again.’[1] Frost made the first of several visits to Cyprus in 1977, invited by the British Council to judge a painting competition in Nicosia, and stayed to teach in the art school founded by the painter Stass Paraskos. The colours he found there had an appealing richness, aridity and depth, eloquently expressed in the present painting. Here Frost strings a necklace of olives beneath his gods, the moon, the sun and the goddess of love, Aphrodite, like the Three Graces, in a radiant celebration of nature and culture.


This brilliant oil painting was acquired directly from the artist by one of the twentieth century’s leading photographers, Roger Mayne (1929 -2014). Writing his obituary, Amanda Hopkinson for The Guardian noted: ‘Mayne’s contemporary influences were as much among the St Ives school of artists, whom he visited in 1953. He became friendly with Roger Hilton, Terry Frost and Patrick Heron.’[2]A photo essay by Mayne of the artist’s work, studio and family in Leeds in 1956, as well as several documentary photographs, were included in Lund Humphries monograph on Frost in 2000


Terry Frost, Red, Yellow, Blue, 1962, oil on canvas: 92.7 x 145.7 cm

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre



Terence Ernest Manitou Frost was born into a working-class family on 13th October 1915 in Leamington Spa. Brought up by his grandparents, Frost was educated at Rugby Road School before attending Leamington Spa Central School from 11 to 14 years of age. After leaving school in 1930 he worked in various jobs. From 1932 to 1939, having joined the Territorial Army, he worked at Armstrong Whitworth in Coventry painting the wings of fighter planes and bombers. He was called up with the Army Reserve in 1939 and served in France, Palestine and Lebanon. After joining the Commandos he fought in Crete, where he was captured in 1941. As a prisoner of war he was interned in camps in Salonika and Poland, ending up in Stalag 383 in Bavaria. Encouraged by the young artist Adrian Heath, Frost began to draw and paint portraits of his fellow POWs. Following his return to Britain in 1945, Frost married Kathleen May Clarke and attended evening classes at Birmingham Art College. In 1946 he moved with his wife and child to Cornwall where they lived in a caravan before moving into a house in Quay Street, St

Ives. At the suggestion of Adrian Heath he studied at Leonard Fuller’s St Ives School of Painting. From 1947 to 1950 Frost studied at Camberwell School of Art on an ex-serviceman’s grant. While attending traditional life classes with William Coldstream, Frost

was strongly influenced by the advice and work of Victor Pasmore, who urged him to skip life class in order to spend time looking at paintings in the National Gallery. With Pasmore’s guidance, he produced his first abstract painting in 1949 based on the poem

Madrigal by W.H. Auden.


In 1950 Frost worked as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth on her sculpture for the Festival of Britain, Contrapuntal Forms. He taught a life drawing class at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham from 1952–4, where William Scott was head of painting and where Heath, Wynter and Lanyon also taught. In 1954 Frost was awarded a Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University and moved his family there while teaching at the Leeds School of Art until 1957. In 1960 he visited America for the first time and through the critic Clement Greenberg he met some of the leading U.S. painters of the day including Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell. In 1962 Frost and his family moved to Banbury and he taught part-time at Coventry Art College. He was made Artist in Residence at the Fine Art department of Newcastle University in 1964, became a full time lecturer at Reading University in 1965 and went on to become Professor of Painting there from 1977 to 1981. Frost moved to Newlyn, Cornwall in 1974. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1992 and was knighted in 1998.

[1] David Lewis, Terry Frost, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2000, p.230.

[2] Amanda Hopkinson, ‘Roger Mayne Obituary’, The Guardian, 13th June 2014.

Post War BritishSir Terry Frost