Lot 8
  • 8

William Scott, R.A.

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • William Scott, R.A.
  • Blue Frying Pan
  • oil on canvas
  • 86 by 111.5cm.; 34 by 44in.
  • Executed in 1956.


Hanover Gallery, London, where acquired by F.R.S. Yorke on 26th September 1956
Gifted from the above to Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg by 1963


London, Hanover Gallery, William Scott: Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings, 25th September - 26th October 1956, cat. no.12 (as Silver Pan);
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, William Scott, 2nd June 1960 - 5th February 1961, cat. no.22 (incorrectly illustrated as cat. no.288), with tour to I.B. Kunstverein, Freiburg, Museum am Ostwa, Dortmund and Stadistsche Galerie und Lenbachgalerie, Munich;
Bern, Kunsthalle, Victor Pasmore, William Scott, 12th July - 18th August 1963, cat. no.14;
Belfast, Ulster Museum, William Scott, 12th September - 5th October 1963, cat. no.9;
London, Tate, William Scott: Paintings, Drawings and Gouaches 1938-1971, 19th April - 29th May 1972, cat. no.47, illustrated.


Norbert Lynton, William Scott,  Thames & Hudson, London, 2004, p.224, illustrated pl.149;
Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings Vol.2,  Thames & Hudson, London, 2013, cat. no.289, illustrated p.144.


Original canvas. There is very minor surface dirt, with a tiny fleck of possible loss to one of the thicker tips of raised impasto, only visible upon very close inspection. This excepting the work appears in very good overall condition. Ultraviolet light reveals three small spots of fluorescence and probable retouching in the black in the upper right hand quadrant, with a further spot appearing to the right hand side of the pan. These have been very sensatively executed. Housed in a thin gilt wooden frame. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to the William Scott Foundation for their kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.

'I find beauty in plainness, in a conception which is precise … a simple idea which to the observer in its intensity must inevitably shock and leave a concrete image in the mind' (The Artist, quoted in Alan Bowness, William Scott: Paintings, Lund Humphries, London, 1964, p.11).

The still life genre was one to which Scott returned to throughout the course of his career, and was a means through which he developed some of his most important dialogues between abstraction and figuration. In the summer of 1953 Scott visited America, meeting the prominent gallerist Martha Jackson, as well as heavyweights of the American scene, including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Mark Rothko. Whilst awestruck with the audacity and confidence of their working style, Scott returned to England convinced that European painters belonged to a different artistic lineage, and that it would be wrong to imitate the pure abstraction of his American counterparts. Instead, he continued to look back to the English traditions of the still life genre, and across the Channel to the work of eighteenth-century French artist Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, imbuing his works, from the 1950s onwards, with a renewed sense of gestural expression.

Through the worked and textured brushwork of these paintings, which together form one of the most important periods of his oeuvre, the artist continued to develop the themes and motifs that he had first touched upon in his early still life paintings of the 1930s. Whilst developing a new, abstract approach, these compositions were still very much rooted in direct observation. The modest pieces of scattered crockery, balanced spatulas and rotund frying pans echoed his working class upbringing, whilst the simple shapes aligned with his emerging preference for bold, confident designs, acted out upon the often featureless, flattened table tops. By the mid-1950s these forms appeared more flattened, with a thick, textured palette that favoured deep, inky blues and dusty blacks, seen in works such as Winter Still Life (1956, Tate, London) and the present painting, produced in the same year. Scott believed firmly in the importance of the picture plane, stating ‘For me the picture plane should never be destroyed. All kinds of pictures that I like in the world seem to be flat … The things in the picture now make a complete whole, and the final image is the picture itself, not the things that have been painted.' In the intervening three years between Scott’s painting Table Still Life (lot 3) and the present work, both owned by Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg, one is able to appreciate the paring back and flattening of the forms that make up the composition, and the beginning of a journey which, by the close of the decade, had taken Scott to a new, almost wholly abstract visual language within his work.