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William Scott

(Scotland, Northern Ireland 15 Feb 1913 – 28 Dec 1989)

Frying pan and eggs
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

63.5 x 76.2 cm stretcher; 80.5 x 92.7 x 7.8 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed u.r. black oil, "W SCOTT". Not dated.
Purchased 1952
Accession number
© Estate of William Scott
Not on display
Further information

Regarding himself to be part of the tradition of French still life painting from Chardin to Braque, Scottish born artist William Scott saw still life painting as his "chief occupation". An interest in flat, abstract qualities of shape and form developed in his early work showing the influence of Cezanne and Picasso. Simple objects, painted from memory but permanently familiar, characterise his work and derive from the country life he knew so well. Scott once wrote: "I may begin a picture as a careful recording of a special sensation evoked clearly at a remembered place, and by a continuous process of work, obliteration, change, an expression of an entirely different thing grows, a 'figure into landscape' or into a still life, 'a man into a woman'. I have no theory. I am not concerned only with 'space construction'. What matters to me in a picture is the 'indefinable'." Nothing could be plainer and more "empty" than this still life, yet everything is exactly placed to give a dignity and resonance to the composition. Scott believed that the spaces and forms in painting must be "animated like living matter". Despite a strong preference for stark, elementary forms, a sensual eroticism pervades his work. Here the objects represented - the earthenware bowl, the frying pan, the onions, eggs and knife - have male and female connotations.

AGNSW Handbook, 1994

Provenance (1)

Hanover Gallery, London, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from the Hanover Gallery 1952

Bibliography (9)

Sir Alan Bowness, William Scott Paintings, London, 1964, 8, 33. plate no. 19

Ernest Brown and Phillips Ltd, London, Catalogue of an exhibition of recent paintings by William Scott, London, 1951. 28

Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 165 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 170 (illus.).

Ted Gott, Laurie Benson and Sophie Matthiesson, Modern Britain 1900-1960, Melbourne, 2007, 284 (colour illus.).

Hanover Gallery, London, William Scott, London, 1953.

Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 156 (illus.). 1927

Norbert Lynton, William Scott, London, 2004, 81 (illus.). plate 39

European Masters, The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1960: Souvenir catalogue of special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, Paintings, Adelaide, 1960. cat. no. 8

Exhibition history (6)

Recent Paintings by William Scott, The Leicester Galleries, London, 02 Feb 1951–22 Feb 1951

William Scott, Hanover Gallery, London, London, 09 Jun 1953–03 Jul 1953

Purchases and Acquisitions for 1953, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Mar 1954–04 Apr 1954

Paintings by European masters: Adelaide Festival of Arts 1960, National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 12 Mar 1960–26 Mar 1960

18 British Paintings from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle, Jun 1965–Jul 1965

Modern Britain 1900-1960, NGV: International, Melbourne, 15 Nov 2007–24 Feb 2008