Seaside Window signed 'Mary Potter' (on the canvas overlap) oil on canvas 71.3 x 61 cm. (28 x 24 in.) Painted in 1960
PROVENANCE: Acquired by the present owner from the 1961 exhibition
EXHIBITED: London, The Leicester Galleries, Mary Potter, April 1961, cat.no.7 London, Whitechapel Gallery, Mary Potter; Paintings 1938-1964, 1964, cat.no.63 (where lent by the present owner); this exhibition later travelled to Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery
Seaside Window depicts the interior of Mary Potter's studio at Crag House, Aldeburgh with the Suffolk coast and shipping activities beyond. Potter moved to Crag House (previously the home of Benjamin Britten) in 1957 as a more affordable and more manageable base than her previous abode. However she found painting there somewhat frustrating; each morning blinding light reflected from the North Sea momentarily blazed through the windows, only to fade to a dim ambience for the remainder the day. Potter was forced to adapt her approach, quickening her pace, employing calligraphic strokes and impulsive decisions in pallet and form, shifting away from a literal interpretation of the subject. Despite her personal dissatisfaction with the locale these changes resulted in what can arguably be considered some of her most dynamic and forceful works.
Seaside Window closely relates to a second composition entitled East Coast Window (1959), acquired by the Royal Academy of Arts in 1963 and subsequently bequeathed to the Tate Gallery, London. In letters to the Tate Gallery, Potter discusses the construction of these works:
'You couldn't say it was exactly painted from this window... But my studio is right on the sea, and I sort of half paint what I see and half make it up.' (Mary Potter, from Julian Potter, Mary Potter, a Life of Painting, Scolar Press, Aldershot, 1998, p.101).
We are grateful to Julian Potter for his assistance in cataloguing this work.