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William Scott - Untitled

William Scott


Oil on canvas: 34.3(h) x 44.3(w) in / 87(h) x 112.4(w) cm
Signed lower left: W. Scott

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BX 152



Greenock 1913 - 1989 Somerset




Signed lower left: W. Scott

Oil on canvas: 34 ¼ x 44 ¼ in / 87 x 112.4 cm

Frame size: 35 ½ x 45 ¾ in / 90.2 x 116.2 cm

In an oak wax polished tray frame


Painted in 1959



Galleria Lorenzelli, Milan

Galleria Blu, Milan;

Private collection, Italy



Milan, Galleria Lorenzelli, Maestri Inglesi Moderni. Bacon Nicholson Pasmore Scott Sutherland, October 1965, no.15, illus., as Composition n.30

Bergamo, Galleria Lorenzelli, W. Scott, February 1978



Osvaldo Patani (introduction), Maestri Inglesi Moderni. Bacon Nicholson Pasmore Scott Sutherland, exh. cat., Galleria Lorenzelli, Milan, 1965, n.p., illus. as Composition n.30

Enciclopedia Universale SEDA della Pittura Moderna, SEDA, Milan, 1969, p.2530, illus. in colour, as Brown

Freddy Battino, letter to Robert Scott, 27th November 1995

Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Volume 2, 1952-1959, Thames & Hudson in association with William Scott Foundation, London, 2013, p.301, no.425, illus. in colour



During the late 1950s, William Scott began to develop towards a second period of abstraction, simplifying his still-life compositions into flat areas of colour with succinct silhouettes hovering weightlessly on a rich, resonant ground; concentrating on a contrast between the primitive austerity of the objects depicted and the sensuous qualities of paint and colour. The present work is a perfect example of the intensity and complexity of colour and surface texture Scott achieved with his new minimalist vocabulary. Across the luxuriant warmth of the deep brown/dark orange colour-field, punctuated by impasted black and white forms, Scott distributes his irregular motifs in two loose bands across the horizontal canvas. The upper composed of three disparate, floating forms cropped by the edges of the canvas; two only outlines like apertures onto the ground, and one a bright, sonorous apricot vessel glowing from the top left. The lower band of five forms which slopes down to the right, are more densely packed and all but one whole, including a fading bronze between two black forms being gradually subsumed into the rich, earthy depths of the burnt sienna background.


In 1958, Scott was one of three artists chosen to represent Britain at the XXIX Venice Biennale, the success of which secured his international standing. In 1959, he was awarded first prize in the British Painters section of the John Moores exhibition, for Blue Abstract, which was subsequently purchased by the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.




William Scott, Composition with blue and black, 1959                 William Scott, Brown and black, 1960

Oil on canvas: 101.5 x 127 cm                                               Oil on canvas: 101.6 x 127 cm

Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums                                         Birmingham Museums Trust





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.