Our work of the week ‘Still Life with White Mug’ by William Scott which is currently on show in Horizons at Jerwood Gallery.
Still Life with White Mug illustrates the influence of the French tradition of still life painting on William Scott’s work. The artist spent the years immediately prior to World War Two in Pont-Aven, Brittany, where he founded an art school with his wife Mary. The outbreak of the conflict forced him to return to Britain and to serve for five years in the army. At the end of the war Scott returned to painting. Following in the footsteps of artists he admired such as Chardin, Cézanne and Bonnard, he began to explore the theme of the tabletop still life with pots, pans, bottles, eggs, fish and vegetables arranged in bare kitchen settings.
Evidence of French influences in this painting can be found in the use of a fluid, loaded brush and in the stark contrast of brilliant white against the visceral tones of the background. The voluptuousness of colour also owned to Scott’s ongoing relationship with Cornwall and artists based there, such as Bryan Winter, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost and Ben Nicholson, whom he frequently met while he was teaching art in Bath (1942-56).