William Scott

Still life, pears

Oil on canvas: 9.9(h) x 13.7(w) in /

25.1(h) x 34.9(w) cm

Signed and dated on the reverse: W SCOTT / 77

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WILLIAM SCOTT CBE RA

Greenock 1913 – 1989 Somerset

 

Still life, pears

 

Signed and dated on the reverse: W SCOTT / 77

Oil on canvas: 10 x 13 ¾ in / 25.1 x 34.9 cm

Frame size: 11 ½ x 15 ½ in / 29.2 x 39.4 cm

 

Provenance:

Dawson Gallery, Dublin, 10th June 1977

Taylor Galleries, Dublin

Antoinette & Patrick J Murphy, Dublin, Ireland, acquired in 1977

 

Exhibited:

Dublin, Dawson Gallery, Twelve Recent Paintings, 9th-23rd July 1977, no.12

Banbridge, F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio, William Scott in Ireland: Paintings, Drawings, Gouaches and Lithographs 1938-1979, 7th March-20th September 2009, no.34

 

Literature:

Denise Ferran, William Scott in Ireland: Paintings, Drawings, Gouaches and Lithographs 1938-1979, exh cat., F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio, Banbridge, 2009, illus. in colour p.31

Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Volume 4, 1969-1989, Thames & Hudson in association with William Scott Foundation, London, 2013, no.830, p.217, illus. in colour

 

William Scott painted pears throughout his career, from Still life, 1935, to one of his final works in 1986, Single blue pear (both private collections). He also chose to gift a Still life with pears, 1957, to the Royal Academy of Arts as his diploma work upon being elected full Academician in May 1984. In the summer of 1976, however, the splendid pear tree outside the artist’s studio at Coleford, espaliered symmetrically against a white wall, inspired a particularly fruitful series of still lifes: ‘As Scott told Walter Moos, in a letter dated 5th January 1978, ‘I became a little obsessed with the tree on my studio wall last summer.’ That obsession had started the previous year, and continued into 1977, but signs had begun appearing as early as March 1975 when Scott sent Walter Moos a group of drawings ‘based on the theme of “Fruit”…at least one was a composition with two pears. In addition to the series An Orchard of Pears, Scott painted seven works titled Still Life, Pears, which he showed as a group at the Dawson Gallery, Dublin, in 1977.’[1] According to the artist’s wife, Mary Scott, ‘they had enjoyed particularly fine weather throughout the summer and autumn of 1976, and as she told a friend, ‘William did some lovely paintings – all oils and mostly of pears. It was a memorable summer for our trees too!’

 

Several contemporary exhibitions featured examples of these fertile works, which inspired equally rich responses, including a group show entitled, Real Life at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (an exhibition of figurative art, part of the Peter Moores Liverpool Project, 2nd June-6th September 1977). Edward Lucie-Smith published a poem in the exhibition catalogue entitled, ‘Five Morsels in the Form of Pears’, a play on Erik Satie’s piano composition, Trois morceaux en forme de poire, which he dedicated to Scott and Satie. ‘The many sexual allusions made throughout the five stanzas encourage the reader to interpret the paintings in a similar fashion. Given Scott’s own history of using the elements of a still life ‘to hint at something else’, as he put it, he obviously approved of Lucie-Smith’s extensive use of sexual metaphor…The painter T.P. Flanagan, writing at a later date, was more subtle in his reading: ‘As with everything he drew, when Scott concentrated his attention upon them, the pears became endowed with several layers of meaning. He perceived them not only as fruit but as symbols of fruitfulness. He managed to establish a correspondence between a couple of pears on a plate as highly charged with erotic innuendo as any Baroque figurative allegory.’[2]

 

Lucie-Smith’s exhibition and accompanying catalogue discussed the various kinds of figurative art practiced in England at the time, writing that: ‘Some artists – the minority – seem to think of art as the creation of an individual system of symbols, which stand for what has been observed. William Scott’s pears, for instance, are hieroglyphs rather than representations. Others – the majority – seem engaged in an effort to bring what is seen and what is put on a canvas closer and closer together, without denying that seeing and painting are in fact different activities.’[3]

 

Beautifully elegant in their simplicity, Scott’s crisply delineated dark green pears float against a creamy, white ground with poetic clarity of form, line, colour and composition; the stark immediacy of the subject balanced by the rich, sensuous application of paint. Scott graphically defines their delightfully curvilinear silhouettes with black borders, presenting one upright in profile with curved stalk and the other lying on its side, the pair illuminating the luscious fruit in the round.

 

 

William Scott, Pears and Grapes                                  William Scott, Five Pears, 1976

Oil on canvas: 41 x 51 cm                                        Oil on canvas: 63.5 x 76 cm

The Fitzwilliam Museum                                          British Council Collection

 

William Scott, Still life with Pears, 1957

Oil on canvas: 46 x 61 cm

Royal Academy of Arts, London, Diploma Work given by the artist in 1985

 

 

WILLIAM SCOTT CBE RA

Greenock 1913 – 1989 Somerset

 

Born in Greenock, Scotland on the 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 Sociétaire 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, Willem de Kooning, Mark 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]Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Volume 4, 1969-1989, Thames & Hudson in association with William Scott Foundation, London, 2013, p.196.

 

[2] Sarah Whitfield, ibid., and TP Flanagan, ‘William Scott’, Independent, 24th January 1990.

[3] Cited in Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, op.cit., p.196. See also Norbert Lynton, William Scott, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004, pp.333-334.

Post War BritishWilliam Scott