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Western art

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Frying pan and eggs



William Scott

Scotland, Northern Ireland

15 Feb 1913 - 28 Dec 1989


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




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


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Scott

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history


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

Referenced in 9 publications


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, AGNSW 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