T02111 QUERCY BLANC 1975–77
Inscribed ‘Anthy Gross’, b.r.
Pen and ink, watercolour and bodycolour, 15 1/2 × 22 1/4 (39.5 × 56.5)
Purchased from The New Art Centre (Knapping Fund) 1977
Exh: Recent Paintings, Watercolours and Etchings by Anthony Gross, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, November 1975 (either 21 or 24; see below); Anthony Gross, New Art Centre, February–March 1977 (38)
In conversation in April 1978 Anthony Gross confirmed that ‘Quercy Blanc’ was displayed in his Liverpool exhibition in 1975 with an earlier title given by him (either ‘Lot Landscape’ (21) or ‘Plateau and Wild Flowers’ (24)). However his 1977 title, ‘Quercy Blanc’, was definitive. In a letter of 20 December 1977, he explained that he began this work in September 1975, when he worked on it on two successive days, drawing on the first and painting on the second. Later 'during Winter 1976–7 I spent several days working into it, and I managed to improve it ... I work on the spot generally for about 4 to 5 hours at a go ... generally in the mornings - paintings taking me about a week (5 × 4 = 20–25 hours each), watercolours less, two days each sometimes three days. To this must be added many hours finishing in the studio.
'What interested me particularly at the time I was painting this and other oils and watercolours during 1975 and 1976 was to use the strongest tones and colours and darks to indicate both the distance and the depth inside the foliage, the paler and lighter tones indicating either the sky, the surface of trees and bushes or the foreground. The plants are mainly juniper and the trees mostly scrub or truffle oaks.
‘The “Quercy Blanc” is an area of the Quercy (Bas Quercy and Haut Quercy and Quercy Blanc being different parts of the area spread over the two departments of the Lot and Tarn & Garonne. The word is derived from the Latin for an oak tree [quercus]. “The White Quercy” because owing to erosion, the chalk of the rock frequently shows through the earth and undergrowth all over this region. This area extends from approximately Souillac in the north to Montauban in the south. My own village (where we have a house) is 34 kilometres from Cahors and is called Le Boulvé.’
Explaining that the village lies in the slightly-raised centre of a small valley which in section resembles a saucer, Anthony Gross enclosed a postcard view showing the relationship between the village and nearby hills beyond, explaining also that some of the fields and trees on top of the hills visible there can be seem in the Tate's watercolour, which ‘is taken from the top of the hills around us. ... The top becomes a plateau, the start of a moorland called Les Causses which extend away across to the Cantal and the Cevennes. This spot is exactly 2 kilometres from my house. Other pictures I have painted over the last twenty years or so are mostly painted very near here.’ From a spot a few yards away looking in another direction he painted his series of paintings ‘The Yellow Valleys.’ The Tate's painting ‘Grey Landscape, Le Boulvé’ 1955 (T.146), though not part of the series ‘The Yellow Valleys’, is very closely related to them in both character and date; it was painted from a spot a hundred yards away from the viewpoint of ‘Quercy Blanc’.
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979