William Scott

Ochre Still Life


Not on display

William Scott 1913–1989
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 864 × 1118 mm
frame: 909 × 1165 × 70 mm
Purchased 1962

Display caption

Scott’s use of thick paint arranged in areas that intersect like blocks signalled his allegiance to European painting as opposed to American. In the 1950s, European artists were seen to value the material of the paint itself while the work of the American Abstract Expressionists was characterised by its expansive scale. In fact, both shared some basic concerns and even retained a concern with subject matter. Scott used such still life objects as saucepans as a starting point. There are, however, often allusions to the human figure: here a pepper pot becomes distinctly phallic.

Gallery label, February 2010

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry


Not inscribed.
Canvas, 34×44 (86·5×112).
Purchased from Mrs Scott (Grant-in-Aid) 1962.
Exh: II. Documenta, Kassel, July–October 1959 (Scott, 3, repr.); Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, June–July 1960 (31, repr. p.23); John Moores Liverpool Exhibition, Liverpool, November 1961–January 1962 (11), as ‘Still Life’; Art in Progress, Marlborough New London Gallery, April–May 1962 (no catalogue).
Repr: Ambassador, No. 11, 1962, p.53 (on its side); Ronald Alley, William Scott, 1963.

The artist told the compiler (28 May 1962) that this work was painted between January and June 1958, before he left for Venice where he was one of the British artists given a retrospective exhibition at that year's Biennale. The Tate painting was not ready in time to be included in the exhibition.

‘Ochre Painting’ is a development towards a more abstract interpretation of the series of still-life themes which recurs again and again in William Scott's pictures. The cooking utensils have become almost abstract shapes flattened out against the table-top which has itself been transformed into an organically shaped container.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II


You might like

In the shop