2017-11-22-2018-11-21 --- 2018-11-21 02:36:38--18
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LOT :35
William Scott OBE RA (1913-1989)
Estimate EUR : €30,000.00 - €50,000.00
Auction Date : 22-11-2017


William Scott OBE RA (1913-1989)

Blue and White (1964)
Oil on canvas, 44 x 44cm (17¼ x 17¼'')

Provenance: From the collection of the architect Michael Scott and his sale, Christies Dublin, May 1989, Lot No. 89.

Exhibited: 'William Scott: Recent Paintings', The Hanover Gallery, London, September - October 1965, Catalogue No.6; 'William Scott', The Dawson Gallery, January - February 1967, Cat. No. 14, where purchased; Modern Irish Painting, Major European Touring Exhibition which started in Helsinki October 1969 and travelled toGoteborg, Norrkoping, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Bielefeld, Bonn, Saarbrücken, London, Leeds, Glasgow, Dublin, Donegal andMayo.

Literature: 'William Scott: Catalogue Raisonne of Oil Paintings', Catalogue No.570, illustrated.


When the late Anne Crookshank, as a young curator of visual art at The Ulster Museum in Belfast in 1958, appealed to local pride and begged her fiscal overlords to agree to purchase a painting by William Scott a local man, if not actually born in Ulster, at least raised and educated there, she played up the considerable fame he had just acquired as Britains highly acclaimed representative in the Venice Biennale of that year. However, despite his fame and the fact that one of his Venice paintings had immediately been purchased and donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, she still felt it necessary to ask her colleagues at the Arts Council in England to include it in a travelling exhibition they were organizing of his work, so that by the time her trustees had a chance to view their new acquisition, they would have adjusted to its modernity. Her strategy paid off. While the painting was touring, Scott was commissioned to paint the biggest mural painting in Ireland at Derrys Altnagelvin Hospital, a great reassurance to her trustees. The purchase went on to raise the profile of contemporary art at the Ulster Museum to the level that under Anne Crookshank the collection there led the field in Ireland for buying good contemporary art.

Blue and Whites was painted in 1964, just 6 years after the Ulster Museums purchase. In many respects, it can be seen as a continuation of the abstract formal language of the hospital mural but, perhaps more importantly, it connects Irish art directly to the greatest precursors of International Modernism. The irregular white rectangle that floats upon the square white ground pays a discreet homage to Malevichs ground breaking White on White in the early days of twentieth century modernism, while the luscious blue triangle thrusts itself outward towards the viewer, just as Franz Kleins blue paintings had thrust themselves at Scott when he first encountered that artists work in New York a decade earlier. Anne Crookshank, who maintained her regard for him over the decades remarked that He handles blue with the greatest skill and achieves superbly luminous passages. In this painting that is augmented by the textural impact of the paint itself, applied in thick downward strokes.

The painting does exactly what Scott intended it to do; it presents a dialogue between the elements of painting itself, between the formal thrust of the blue triangle and the two levels of white ground from which it emerges, without recourse to any narrative or literary qualities. The drama of space, light, texture and colour are all manifested through the artists manipulation of them in a way that is coherent and self-contained, and utterly compelling. Scott was quoted as saying about his work that what matters to me is the indefinable. He achieves that in this painting through the elements of the medium itself, which in his use of them, offer more than the sum of their various parts. It is no surprise that the architect, Michael Scott, that guru of Modernism in Ireland was one of the owners of this work in its earlier life.

Catherine Marshall
October 2017



Hammer Price : €33,000.00
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