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William Scott - Girl seated at a table

William Scott

Girl seated at a table

Oil on canvas: 24(h) x 30.2(w) in / 61(h) x 76.8(w) cm
Signed and dated lower right: W Scott / 38

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BS 290



Greenock 1913 - 1989 Somerset


Girl seated at a table


Signed and dated lower right: W Scott/ 38; inscribed on labels attached to the reverse

Oil on canvas: 24 x 30 ¼ in / 61 x 76.8 cm

Frame size: 31 x 37 in / 78.7 x 94 cm



Private collection, 1950

Christie’s London, 25th November 1993, lot 1;

where acquired by David Bowie (1946-2016)



Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Vol. 1 1913-1951, Thames & Hudson in association with the William Scott Foundation, London, 2013, cat. no. 28, illus. p.76



Mary and I had the opportunity of living in France and Italy just before the war, and it was in Pont-Aven that I felt I started to discover what I needed – and then the war came.’ William Scott[1]


William and Mary Scott had settled in Pont-Aven by June 1938, following their studies at the Royal Academy Schools and subsequent travels through Italy and France experiencing first-hand works by early Renaissance masters and the European avant-garde. Close to the south coast of Brittany, the Scotts were drawn to the former artists’ colony of Paul Gauguin and with artist Geoffrey Nelson, set up a summer art school, sponsored the following year by Augustus John, Walter Sickert, Sir Muirhead Bone and Albert Rutherstone. By the end of 1938, William had shown two works at the Salon d’Automne in Paris and had been nominated as a member.


Scott began painting Hilda Mary Lucas in 1934 shortly after they met and executed several seated portraits of her from life in 1938, the year after they married. In Girl seated at a table, previously in the private collection of David Bowie, Scott combines figure and still life painting, which would remain his chief interests, in a vibrant work of quiet monumentality. Scott depicts the sparse surroundings of the studio in low-toned soft greys enlivened by his expressive application of paint and the warm, almost orange-pink flesh tones of the figure and sun-bright flowers.


William Scott, Girl at a Blue Table, 1938

Oil on canvas: 65.9 x 81 cm

County Hall, Leicester County Council



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] The artist in William Scott: Paintings Drawings and Gouaches 1938-71, by Alan Bowness, exh cat, Tate Gallery, 1972, p. 67.