William Scott, R.A. (1913-1989)
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William Scott, R.A. (1913-1989)

White Eggs and Pan with Ochre Underline

William Scott, R.A. (1913-1989)
White Eggs and Pan with Ochre Underline
signed and dated 'W. SCOTT '75' (lower right)
pencil, pastel and gouache on paper
22 ¼ x 29 7/8 in. (56.5 x 76 cm.)
Executed in 1975.
This work is recorded in the William Scott Archive as No. 1083.
with Martha Jackson Gallery, New York.
with Anderson Gallery, Buffalo.
Private collection.
with Archeus Fine Art, London, where purchased by the present owner in 2004.
Buffalo, Albright Knox, William Scott Drawings, October - December 1975, exhibition not numbered.
Santa Barbara, Museum of Art, William Scott Gouaches, January - February 1976, exhibition not numbered.
New York, Martha Jackson Gallery, William Scott Gouaches, March - April 1976, exhibition not numbered.
Texas, S.G. Mathews Gallery, William Scott Gouaches, October 1977 - November 1978, exhibition not numbered.
Buffalo, Anderson Gallery, W. Scott Memorial Exhibition, September - October 1992, no. 44.
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

‘I find beauty in plainness, in a conception which is precise … A simple idea which to the observer in its intensity must inevitably shock and leave a concrete image in the mind’ (W. Scott, quoted in A. Bowness (ed.), William Scott: Paintings, London, 1964, p. 19).

Executed in 1975, White Eggs and Pan with Ochre Underline illustrates the new sense of purity and focus that marked William Scott’s work during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as he embarked upon a series of minimalist, semi-abstract compositions that extended his explorations of the still life genre. Gone are the more complex and painterly works of the previous two decades, as Scott returned to a more restrained vocabulary, which spoke more of the harmonious interaction between shape, form and colour and the primary role of the picture surface. Alan Bowness notes, 'so in a now familiar pattern of action and reaction Scott's painting purges itself of all inessentials, and gets back to fundamentals' (William Scott, in conversation with Alan Bowness, exhibition catalogue, William Scott: Paintings Drawings and Gouaches 1938-71, Tate, London, 1972, p. 56). This was explained by Scott: ‘The pictures were now larger and a process of elimination again took place – hardly with my awareness. I had returned to a new phase of abstraction with the difference that I was now prepared to leave larger areas of undisturbed colour. I no longer worry whether a painting is about something or not: I am only concerned with the expectation from a flat surface of an illusion’ (W. Scott, quoted in N. Lynton, William Scott, London, 2004, p. 300).

Scott’s interest in depicting these “things of life” stemmed from his austere childhood and early works of the utilitarian objects familiar to him. These simple motifs of kitchen crockery, became a recurring theme throughout his career, which he continues to pursue into his works of the 1970s. While featuring many of the same objects and utensils that had dominated the artist’s oeuvre, the familiar forms of pots and saucepans, bowls and cups are now distilled down to bare, simple outlines and neat silhouettes, which appear to hover weightlessly against the void, held in place by an imperceptible internal tension. In White Eggs and Pan with Ochre Underline the ubiquitous frying pan appears at the heart of the composition, its slender handle pointing straight upwards, as if seen from above, while a small, rounded bowl in which three eggs sit, stands alongside it.

Stripped of any additional adorning or frivolous detail, Scott presents the objects in their simplest form. Scott has removed the perspective employed in his earlier still lifes so there is now no discernible table top, but instead a stark, white backdrop, which highlights the flatness of the pictorial space. Deploying an exceptionally neat and strikingly economical aesthetic, through the exacting placement of his items and carefully balanced palette, with the introduction of a simple strike of ochre set against the minimalist white background, Scott grants a sense of harmony and timelessness to his composition.

Norbert Lynton summarised, 'What drives the series is Scott's continual discovery of alternative compositional and colour strategies. In both respects, he was shunning drama and fullness. That means also shunning effects of time, whether in showing the process by which the final painting was reached or in suggesting ancientness in the subjects. We experience in them visual silence which, after the first moment, opens out into a kind of musicality. Time is sensed in the intervals between motifs, while the echoing shapes, together with the discreet use of colour, yield a sense of harmony. To encounter one of these still lifes in a mixed display is exhilarating; to see several together is fascinating because of the dialogue between them' (N. Lynton, William Scott, London, 2004, pp. 313-316).

We are very grateful to the William Scott Foundation for their assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.

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