Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art


William Scott, R.A.


Marques da Costa, Brazil
Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London 
Beaux Arts, London (possibly)
Osborne Samuel, London, where acquired by the present owner


São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, VI Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna: Peter Lanyon, William Scott, Lynn Chadwick, Merlyn Evans, 1st September - 1st November 1961, cat. no.10; 
London, Beaux Arts, William Scott, 12th April - 20th May 2000, illustrated (as 2nd April);
London, Osbourne Samuel, Nine Abstract Artists Revisited, 10th March - 9th April 2005, cat. no.38, illustrated. 


Mario Pedrosa, letter to Lilian Somerville, 25th September 1961, (National Archives, Kew, BW 16/35);
Sarah Whitfield (ed.), William Scott Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Vol. 3, 1960-1968, Thames & Hudson in association with the William Scott Foundation, London, 2013, cat. no.471, illustrated p.75.


'I am an abstract artist in the sense that I abstract. I cannot be called non-figurative while I am still interested in the modern magic of space, primitive sex forms, the sensual and erotic, disconcerting contours, the things of life. ' (William Scott in Lawrence Alloway, Nine Abstract Artists: Their Work and Theory, A. Tiranti, London, 1954, p.37)

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

William Scott’s wok is most typically identified with the simplistic and austere. However his work of the late 50s and 60s is most readily characterised by bold, gestural and vibrant displays of colour. The objects which populate his works demonstrate themselves to be texturally rich and thickly painted. The quality of the paint surface was during this period extremely important as Scott began to experiment with ‘the textural contrasts, the thin paint and the thick paint and the scratched lines. But although Scott treated oil paint as a delectable substance, he was anxious to avoid a too perfect finish, the facile smartness: he wanted the surfaces to have tension and vitality and to show signs of a struggle. Hence his careful-careless way of applying the paint, his practice of allowing corrections to show through, and his liking for what he calls ‘the beauty of the thing done badly...;’ (Norbert Lynton, William Scott, Thames and Hudson, London, 2004, p.212)

As the texture becomes the all important factor objects dissolve and hesitate between suggesting something and not suggesting anything at all. Scott’s application of paint at this time is typically brusque, with paint pushed and dragged around the canvas with considerable vigour, with no reference to the edge of the canvas. In the present work both the speed and careful deliberation with which Scott has approached the work is apparent. The scrawls in the paint surface are in marked contrast to the textural pure canvases of his later, minimal work demonstrating the experimentation and variety which so defined Scott’s career.

Modern & Post-War British Art