SIR TERRY FROST, R.A. (1915-2003)
SIR TERRY FROST, R.A. (1915-2003)
SIR TERRY FROST, R.A. (1915-2003)
SIR TERRY FROST, R.A. (1915-2003)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
SIR TERRY FROST, R.A. (1915-2003)

Fields

Details
SIR TERRY FROST, R.A. (1915-2003)
Fields
oil on canvas
28 x 36 in. (71 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1955.
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist, and by descent.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 13 December 2007, lot 87.
with Alan Wheatley Art, London, where purchased by the present owner in 2017.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

In a career that spanned six decades, Frost was a pioneer of British abstraction and a leading exponent of the St Ives School. His contribution to the history of twentieth century British art cannot be overstated. After studying at Birmingham College of Art and Camberwell School of Art, Frost was part of the pioneering generation of British abstract artists closely associated with St Ives that formed during the 1950s. Others included Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron and Roger Hilton.

Fields is emblematic of a pivotal period of painting following Terry Frost’s arrival in Leeds in 1954, embodying the taut structure and vertical emphasis that came to define his response to the Yorkshire landscape. Between 1954 and 1956, Frost held the position of the Gregory Fellow of Painting at Leeds University, and continued teaching at the art college until 1957. Founded in 1950 by Peter Gregory, the fellowship was a pioneering experiment to bring poets, painters and artists onto campus and foster relationships across disciplines. Frost threw himself into this with characteristic gusto; he was an engaging teacher, and stories abound of his paintings displayed alongside microscope photographs of cells in the botany department, and exhibitions held in factory canteens.

The Yorkshire Dales and high Pennines became Frost’s major inspiration and source of subject matter during his years in Leeds. He frequently explored the Wolds, Dales and limestone outcrops on foot; the landscape held formal similarities to the moorland surrounding his home in St Ives, but he felt it required a different visual vocabulary. Noticing drystone walls dividing the contours of the hills into narrow fields, which appeared to run vertically up the hillside, Frost replaced the rocking semi-circles of his St Ives painting with vertical lines, rectangular panels and trapeziums, masterly realised in the present work.

The panels are composed with a remarkable interplay of rhythm and tension, accentuated by a luminous palette of autumnal tones. Frost’s experience of landscape is illustrated well in one recollection of walking with Herbert Read: ‘it was a clear bright day and I looked up and saw the white sun spinning on top of a copse. Afterwards and now I recall that I thought I saw a Naples yellow blinding circle spinning on top of black verticals. The sensation was true. I was spellbound’ (T. Frost quoted in R. Duncan, 'The Leeds Connection’, in D. Lewis, Terry Frost, Aldershot, 1994 p. 66).

The present work is an outstanding example of Frost's work from the mid 1950s, the period for which the artist is arguably most well celebrated. Frost had numerous solo exhibitions throughout his lifetime, both in Britain and internationally, including at the ICA (1971), an Arts Council touring retrospective (1976), Tate St Ives (1993), the British Council in New York (1998) and a major RA retrospective (2000). Frost's work is held in many private and public collections around the world including MoMA and Tate.

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