Lot 50
  • 50

John Armstrong, A.R.A.

3,000 - 5,000 GBP
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  • John Armstrong, A.R.A.
  • Still Life
  • signed and dated 66
  • oil on canvas
  • 38 by 63.5cm.; 15 by 25in.


The Artist's wife, from whom acquired by the present owner, circa 1973

Catalogue Note

Still life analysis became a major theme for Armstrong following his return to London from Lamorna in 1955. The breakdown of his second marriage left him without a home and with no studio, initially moving between friends and then renting a small flat near Portobello Road. In this spartan environment his compositions were frequently assembled on table tops and window ledges, the fruit and vegetables fresh from the local market.

Armstrong’s fascination for the subject extended beyond arrangement, colour and light. As exemplified by titles such as Inside and Out, and Concave and Convex, and also discussed in his ‘Painters Purpose’ article in The Studio of March 1958, Armstrong’s originality is seen in his analysis of inner and outer surface, frequently juxtaposed with the contained genesis of the fruit or vegetable depicted. This is achieved through a flat microscopic section of the fruitful interior superimposed like a blueprint on the rounded exterior or hollowed shell of the subject itself.

During 1966/67 Armstrong completed a final, highly refined series of these works, with several shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions in 1967 and 1968, including Hollow Fruit, Vegetable Analysis, and Hollow Forms. The present work has similar dimensions to these paintings, but is uniquely composed as a stage set flanked by curtains, recalling Armstrong’s early very successful years as a leading designer for theatre, ballet and film during the 1930s and 40s.

We are grateful to Jonathan Gibbs for compiling this note, and for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.