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William Scott, Bowl (white on grey), 1962

How did this painting come to Kettle’s Yard?

Jim Ede obtained this small painting by exchanging it with the artist for a painting by Alfred Wallis:

‘I am wondering whether you would care to exchange a painting rather than buy one …I have no idea how valuable Wallis is or how we compare in the commercial market, if you are interested in a swap I should like to hear from you.’

letter from William Scott to Jim Ede in 1962.

This painting reflects Ede’s taste at this time when he was collecting monochrome works such as those by Italo Valenti. There is evidence from Ede’s letters and diaries that he would have liked to buy more works by Scott.

Who is William Scott?

He was born in Scotland and brought up in Ireland. He studied at the Belfast College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. He spent the years just before World War Two at Pont-Aven in Brittany. He joined the army in 1942. He later taught at the Bath Academy of Art. At this time he frequently visited St Ives and got to know many of the artists working there. By 1956 he was successful enough to work as an artist full time and in 1958 he represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale. In 1972 the Tate Gallery mounted a major exhibition of his work. He died in 1989 at home in Somerset. You can find a full biography here.

About the painting

In the 50s and 60s Scott restricted his use of colour. At the time of painting Bowl Scott was influenced by his visits to Italy and Greece and was interested in cave painting. His still-lifes of this time have a dream-like, timeless quality and many of them have colours as titles. He painted still-lifes throughout his life, writing:

‘My interest in still-life painting grew directly out of looking at Cezanne. I wanted to look at Cezanne not through cubist eyes, but rather through the eyes of Chardin.’

Where can I see it?

It is currently on display in Being Modern at the Fitzwilliam Museum.