Still Life on Brown with Beans (1978) signed 'W.SCOTT' (verso) oil on canvas 61 x 61 cm. (24 x 24 in.) This work is registered in the William Scott Archive as number 1088
PROVENANCE: With Gallery Moos, Toronto With Martha Jackson Gallery, New York The artist With Gimpel Fils, London With Beaux Arts, Bath, where purchased by the present owner circa 1983
EXHIBITED: Toronto, Gallery Moos, William Scott, 725 October 1978 London, Gimpel Fils, William Scott. Every Picture Tells a Story, 26 February30 March 1985, no.33 (dated c.1978)
William Scott was devoted to painting still-life throughout his career. During the post war years, these compositions were received with great acclaim as Scott became a key figure in progressive British art. Portraying the reality of the kitchen, they would typically comprise the likes of fish, eggs, lemons and various kitchen utensils on a defined tabletop. Green beans first seem to appear in his canvases in the late 1940s and perhaps the best-known example is Still Life with Colander (Private Collection) executed in 1948. For the next thirty years some of his most important and impressive paintings centred on still-life, however, by the 1970s the style of them had changed considerably. In his literature on the artist, Norbert Lynton comments:
'The main difference between these late paintings and their early precursors is of course the new works' concentration on just a few items: a fish on a plate where there were several, a plate with a few green beans where they would have been accompanied by many other kitchen items. The tabletop is almost always up-ended now to fill the surface as a ground, and thus loses its connotation. An exception is Orchard of Pears No. 6 (1976-77), in which three pears are on a plate and two are beside it, on a grey ground that may represent a table.' (Norbert Lynton, William Scott, Thames and Hudson, London, 2004, p.354).
In keeping with Lynton's observations, Still Life on Brown with Beans simply incorporates four vertical beans and a bowl. Whilst it is likely the brown background is representative of a tablecloth, this is not implicit and the movement of a bean off the canvas together with the linear nature of the bowl lends a minimalist abstraction to the picture.