William George Scott was born at 24 Tobago Street, Greenock, in the county of Renfrew, on the southern bank of the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. His father, William John Scott, came from Killymard in Co. Donegal, Ireland; his mother, Agnes Murray, from Glasgow. By the time Scott was born, they already had two daughters, Cathy and Nancy.
Britain entered the 1914–18 war. Scott’s father volunteered for the army, serving as a driver in the Highland Horse Brigade.
Scott’s sister Gretta was born. By this date the family had moved to 8 Drumfrochar Road, Greenock.
Scott’s brother Charles was born.
William John Scott was demobilised from the army and returned home to find his wife working at the flour mills. Agnes Scott and the five children were still living at 8 Drumfrochar Road and Scott was attending the nearby Mearns Street School. William John Scott found work in Greenock as a sign writer, and was employed by barbers’ shops and several ice-cream parlours run by the local Italian community.
Scott’s sister, Mary, was born.
Scott’s brother, Hugh Kelly, was born.
Scott’s brother, John Robert (Bertie) was born.
Scott’s brother, Alexander Allison, was born
Due to a lack of work in Greenock, early in the year, William John Scott decided to return to his home town of Enniskillen, leaving his wife to bring the rest of the family at a later date.
Agnes and the children caught the steamship from Greenock. After they arrived in Enniskillen, the family stayed at first on Forthill Street with Scott’s paternal grandfather, John Scott, who was working as a cabinet maker. Scott’s father had found work through many of his old school friends painting and decorating their shops and houses in an ornate Victorian style.
Scott enrolled at the Enniskillen National Model School.
Scott’s brother, Walter, was born. By this date the Scott family were living at 4 (now 2) Queen Street, Enniskillen.
Scott’s father approached the local art teacher Kathleen Bridle (1897–1989) to ask if his son could attend her art classes. Despite Scott’s young age she agreed to let him join her evening classes at the Enniskillen Technical School as a special pupil. From the start she took a great interest in the young boy. He learned to paint in watercolour and draw from nature at her afternoon classes, and studied life drawing at her evening classes two nights a week. Scott also spent time at Bridle’s home at 8 Townhall Street, looking through her collection of art books. She had been a student at the Royal College of Art in London where she had met, among others, Henry Moore. Knowledgeable about modern art, Bridle introduced her pupil to the work of artists such as Cézanne, Picasso and Modigliani. Scott also recalled learning a great deal by watching Bridle paint his portrait in oils, although she preferred painting outdoors and they would often go out sketching together in the local countryside. Scott knew the area around Enniskillen well and, as a Boy Scout, probably made several outings led by his teacher at the Model school, Robert Scott.
William John Scott died the day after falling from a ladder while helping to put out a fire at Kirkpatrick Brothers in Church Street, Enniskillen. According to a note found amongst the family papers, he had just started up a building company and had drafted a painted sign announcing, ‘Scott & Sons’.
Scott’s sister, Violet Isobel, was born.
The Art Inspector for Northern Ireland, John Hunter, informed the Principal of the Technical School that Scott was worthy of recommendation for a scholarship to enable him to continue his studies at a Senior School such as the School of Art in the Belfast College of Technology. That recommendation owed a great deal to Kathleen Bridle, a close friend of John Hunter. The County of Fermanagh Education Committee gave Scott a grant for no more than three years at 25 shillings a week to attend the Belfast School of Art. He stayed at the Presbyterian War Memorial Hostel near the Great Northern Station, which provided accommodation for young Presbyterians working or studying in Belfast. It was in the hostel that Scott met William Tocher, a fellow student who was to become a close friend. Other fellow students included the sculptor Elizabeth Clements (later Betty McCord, and a member of the Ulster Unit), Crawford Mitchell (who became a printmaker and a member of the Ulster Unit), Molly Anderson and Mary Stevenson (later Mary Lark).
Scott made regular visits to the Belfast Art Gallery. As he said later, ‘Being a student in Belfast there was a great advantage in studying a really superb collection of paintings owned by the Ulster Museum [previously the Belfast Art Gallery]. These paintings had been acquired just a few years before I went to Belfast and they provided Tocher and myself with endless discussion.’
Scott won a prize of £3 in an open competition promoted by the ‘Belfast Telegraph’, and first prize at an Open Design Competition at Dublin.
Scott’s youngest sister, Violet Isobel, died after a fit of convulsions brought on by whooping cough. She was buried in the same grave as her father.
Scott appears to have failed his final exams at Belfast School of Art. Having discovered that the Royal Academy Schools in London offered free places to talented students, he and Tocher applied and were accepted (Scott had been recommended to the Royal Academy Schools by Ivor Beaumont, Principal of Belfast School of Art from 1919 to 1951).
Scott and Tocher left for England and entered the Royal Academy Schools as Probationers for three months. The students received a strict academic training. They spent two days a week (Thursdays and Fridays) copying old masters in the National Gallery and were required to study the writings of Sir Joshua Reynolds and John Ruskin. Only one creative composition was expected each term.
Scott and Tocher quickly became friends with Alfred Janes (1911–99) who had come to the RA Schools from Swansea. Janes was in the Painting School and the three met regularly in the semi-circular drawing studio.
Having completed his probation period satisfactorily, Scott was admitted to the Royal Academy Sculpture School (headed by the Master, William McMillan). Peter Scott (the naturalist, 1909–89) and the painter Harry Hicken (1911–2000), who was to become a close friend, were admitted at the same time.
Scott spent Christmas in Portsmouth, possibly with the family of George Spencer-Watson, RA (1869–1934), having befriended his daughter, Mary Spencer-Watson (1913–2006), a fellow sculpture student at the RA Schools. The Spencer-Watson family had a house on the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, not far from Portsmouth. Scott and Tocher would spend several weekends as well as Christmas holidays with the Spencer-Watsons at Dunshay Manor.
Scott visited the exhibition ‘French Art 1200–1900’ at the Royal Academy which opened on 4 January (closed 5 March).
Scott worked his passage home to Ireland for the summer; this was to be a rare visit as the journey was expensive.
At the Royal Academy’s annual prize-giving, Scott was awarded a Turner Prize of £15 for a model of a design of a subject combined with architecture. His winning entry was a group of two figures on a pedestal.
Scott spent Christmas in Dorset with the Spencer-Watson family.
Scott spent the term after Easter sharing accommodation with Mervyn Levy (1915–96), then a student at Royal College of Art, at 35 Edith Grove, Chelsea.
‘Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson’ was held at the Beaux-Arts Gallery, London, from 1 May to 2 June. This major exhibition, which included 84 oil paintings, toured England and Northern Ireland. There is no evidence that Scott saw the exhibition but as an artist sympathetic to tonal painting he is unlikely to have missed the opportunity to see a wide selection of Nicholson’s work.
The Spencer-Watsons asked Scott to paint two curtains for their ‘theatre’. Hilda Spencer-Watson (née Gardiner) was a dancer in the manner of Isadora Duncan. She developed a form of dramatic performance, acting out the Greek myths through mime. She put on amateur productions in a theatre in the barn of Dunshay Manor, as well as in a small theatre near Olympia, West Kensington.
Scott began work on his design for the Gold Medal competition, the subject for which was ‘The Expulsion from Eden’. By the end of September, the design was finished and ready to be cast. A photograph of the plaster shows a composition based on Masaccio’s ‘Expulsion’ (Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence). A postcard, cut down to show the figures of Adam and Eve, was found amongst the artist’s papers and is a likely source for the plaster.
In the annual prize-giving Scott was awarded a Landseer prize of £20 and a silver medal for two models of busts from life.
Scott transferred at his own request from the Sculpture School to the Painting School (headed by the Keeper, Sir Walter Westley Russell). In a letter to the RA Secretary (Sir Walter R.M. Lamb) Scott explained: ‘I feel that I shall not succeed in doing good work as a Sculptor, and that, as my inclination lies in the direction of painting, I shall make a more satisfactory use of my time by studying in that School.’ Later, however, he maintained that the move had been for practical reasons: ‘One had to be pretty mobile in the early thirties. We changed our digs so frequently that the less gear we had to drag from one place to another the better. Besides, landladies were more tolerant to painters. They were rather against their bedrooms being used as sculptor’s studios. It was simply more convenient to be a painter!’
Hilda Mary Lucas (1912–99), the daughter of William Temple Lucas and Sybil Wagstaff Thatcher, was admitted as a full-time student to the RA Sculpture School where she met Scott. Known by her middle name, Mary had previously studied at Bristol School of Art and the Slade School. She and Scott met as the latter frequently dropped into the Sculpture School to see his friend Tocher.
Scott was awarded a Landseer Painting Scholarship of £40 a year, tenable for two years. He was placed second for ‘Two Painted Figures’.
Scott returned to Enniskillen, possibly to consult his doctor about problems with his eyes, thought to have been caused by poor nutrition.
Scott registered as a copyist at the National Gallery on 12 November. His Referee was Walter Russell, Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools. Copies of two paintings in the National Gallery are recorded: a full-sized version of Piero della Francesca’s ‘Baptism’ (a work possibly suggested by his teacher Tom Monnington, who greatly admired Piero della Francesca) and a portrait by Van Dyck. A squared-up photograph of the ‘Baptism’ was found amongst the artist’s papers.
In the same month, Dylan Thomas arrived in London. He shared a room with Alfred Janes at 5 Redcliffe Street, SW10. Mervyn Levy occupied another room in the house. Through Janes Scott met Dylan Thomas and they became firm friends.
Scott worked on a large canvas, ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’, which he entered for the Gold Medal prize. His grant from Ireland had stopped and he was in need of the £200 prize money. The prize, however, went to John Kingsley Cook (1911-1994).
Scott left London for Cornwall, where he stayed in Mousehole in a fisherman’s loft that had been converted into a simple studio by a Cornish friend, Dick Pentreath, the son of a Mousehole fisherman (the loft was most probably Keigwin Studio, the address given for Scott in the 1936 Royal Academy summer exhibition catalogue). There Scott met Laura and Harold Knight, both Royal Academicians. He also met Dod Proctor whose husband Ernest died on 21 October, and whose easel Scott bought for £2.
Scott wrote to the Secretary of the Royal Academy of Arts to apply for a Lord Leverhume grant, which was awarded to him the following day.
Scott officially left the Royal Academy Schools even though his studentship had a year to run. He had been ‘a very satisfactory student in every respect’ according to a reference from the Schools written on 19 October 1939 when he applied for a teaching job in the Republic of Ireland. He was said to have had ‘a very sound training in Sculpture, Drawing and Painting’ and to have ‘attended Lectures in Anatomy, Chemistry and Perspective’.
Scott was still living in Mousehole. (Inscriptions in two books he owned – ‘Georges de Chirico’ by Roger Vitrac and ‘Paul Cézanne’ by Nina Iavorskaia – show that he was in Mousehole in February.)
Scott returned from Cornwall to see his ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’ exhibited at the RA ‘Summer Exhibition’. He shared a studio with Mary Lucas at 5 Challoner Mansions in West Kensington.
Mary Lucas won the silver medal awarded by the Edward Stott Architectural Prize for her model of a doorway with two relief sculptures.
Scott and Mary Lucas were married at Chelsea Registry Office. On the marriage certificate his profession is given as ‘Artist (Painter)’, and his address as ‘The Studio, 62 Lillie Road, Fulham’. Mary Lucas’s profession is given as ‘Sculptress’, and her address as ‘3, Edith Grove, Chelsea’. There were two witnesses: Mary’s mother, Sybil Lucas (who had been given one week’s notice of the wedding), and the painter Robin Pearce. A small reception, attended by close family and friends, was held at the Good Intent (a restaurant in the King’s Road). Later that day, the Scotts arrived in Paris. According to Mary, Scott had secured a small job working on a ‘1937 Paris exhibition’ (very likely a job in the British pavilion of the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne’, which opened on 25 May 1937). The job, small as it was, gave the couple the excuse they needed to get married in order to go to Paris together (her relationship with Scott had been kept secret from her family who, she said, ‘would have been horrified’ if they had known about it). The couple spent a week in Paris, staying at a small hotel in the students’ quarter near St Michel. July
The Scotts visited Cornwall, staying at a cottage called ‘Hebdey’, at Treknow, near Tintagel.
For the next few months, they rented a cottage in Chideock, near Bridport in Dorset, with the use of an old Methodist chapel nearby as a studio. Mary continued to make sculpture and Scott painted a series of portraits of his wife as well as landscapes and still lifes. During the summer they had several visitors including Bernard Hailstone and his wife Joan, and Robin Pearce and his future wife Faye Grant White (also a painter), whose marriage took place that summer in Dorset.
Learning that the cost of living was cheaper in Italy and France, the Scotts decided to leave England. Before setting out Scott left his recent paintings for safe keeping with Bernard Hailstone who had taken a lease on 2 The Paragon in Blackheath, London, letting out the spare rooms to painters and sculptors at Goldsmiths’ College. The Scotts travelled through France to Alassio, on the Ligurian Riviera where they rented a large, self-contained flat in a villa with a well-kept garden overlooking the sea. From there they visited Florence, seeing the paintings in the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti as well as local monasteries. Scott later recalled that he took two books with him, one on Matisse and the other Roger Fry’s ‘Vision and Design’. Scott also owned a copy of Fry’s ‘The Arts of Painting and Sculpture’, 1932, a text he studied carefully.
Mary Scott officially resigned from the RA Schools although her studentship was not due to expire until June 1939.
The Scotts’ passports record frequent journeys between Italy and France (Alassio is 50 km from the border with France).
While the Scotts were staying in Florence they witnessed, by chance, Hitler’s official visit to the city.
The Scotts decided to move northwards to Brittany where they settled in Pont-Aven. There they met the English artist Geoffrey Nelson, who had studied at the Slade, and the three of them decided to set up a summer art school. According to Scott, Nelson had useful contacts in England and was able to enlist a few supporters. Nelson also persuaded Julia Correlleau, the owner of a local inn, the Hôtel de la Poste, to convert an area at the back of the hotel into a studio on the understanding that the students would stay at the hotel.
Scott met the French painter Maurice Asselin, a former pupil of Walter Sickert. Asselin took a liking to Scott and became a supporter of his work, putting him forward for the British section of the Salon d’Automne in Paris (Scott showed two paintings).
At the time of the Munich Pact, which allowed the Nazi annexation of Sudetenland, the Scotts, concerned about the possibility of war, returned to England for a short time.
The Scotts attended the opening of the Salon d’Automne at the Palais de Chaillot. The couple remained in Paris staying in a residential hostel near Saint Sulpice and spent time in the modern art collection of the nearby Musée du Luxembourg. They then travelled south staying first in a studio right on the harbour in St Tropez; the plan seems to have been to spend the winter months in the south of France.
In a letter dated 16 December, M. Laclaverie, the Secretary General of the Société du Salon d’Automne, advised Scott that he had been nominated ‘Membre Sociétaire du Salon d’Automne’.
The Scotts moved again in January. Scott’s temporary French identity card (récépissé de demande de carte d’identité) issued at Saint Tropez on 1 January shows that he arrived at Cagnes-sur-mer a few days later where he and Mary stayed at 6 rue St Sebastien.
Scott’s identity card shows that he returned to Pont-Aven on 22 March. Meanwhile, plans for the Pont-Aven School of Painting had progressed and a prospectus had been printed.
According to the prospectus, the Pont-Aven School of Painting opened at the beginning of May, but it seems likely that the first students only began to arrive in June. Subjects were taught by Scott (Figure and Still Life), Geoffrey Nelson (Landscape) and Mary Scott (Drawing and Sculpture). Maurice Asselin is described as ‘Visitor’. The ‘Supporters’ are listed as Augustus E. John, Sir Muirhead Bone, Walter Richard Sickert and Albert Rutherston. Visits were made to the surrounding fishing villages such as Douarnenez, Tréboul, Trévignon and Port Manec’h, where Scott painted alongside the students. He also had the use of a large studio at the Hôtel de la Poste.
The Scotts returned briefly to England, a move presumably prompted by the signing of the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy on 22 May 1939.
Days before the declaration of war with Germany on 3 September the Scotts left France. They took some of Scott’s paintings with them, rolled up, but others were left for safe keeping in France with Julia Correlleau, together with sketchbooks, sculptures by Mary Scott and personal belongings. Leaving their car on the quay, they caught the boat from St Malo to England where they stayed briefly with Mary’s aunt, Hilda Cleminson (née Thatcher), in Devon.
The Scotts took the boat from Holyhead to Dublin. They rented a flat at 43 Wellington Road, Ballsbridge, but were unable to find a suitable studio. Over the next few months Scott looked for work as an art teacher (in October he obtained a reference from Tom Monnington RA, his former teacher at the Royal Academy Schools). However, he was turned down on the grounds that he could not speak the Irish language.
William and Mary’s son, Robert Murray Scott, was born in Dublin.
Scott registered as an Irish ‘natural-born citizen’.
The Scotts left Ireland for England where they stayed first with Mary’s family at Clifton, Bristol. Mary’s older sister Marguerite Milton, whose son John was seven years old, agreed to look after Robert while his parents moved to London to work In London, they took a flat in Hogarth Road, Earls Court, and Scott worked in a postal sorting office.
Marguerite Milton decided to move to North America with her son John for the duration of the war. It was agreed she would take with her the six-month old Robert Scott. They stayed first in Washington, DC, later moving to Montreal.
After their flat in Earls Court was damaged in an air raid, the Scotts lived briefly with Robin and Faye Pearce in an empty house in Hampstead before moving to Caterham, Kent, with their friends Jo and Deirdre Sloane. The house was owned and built by the sculptor Trevor Tennant (1900–80), and had plenty of space with an orchard and a studio.
Scott exhibited two paintings in London at the Leicester Galleries annual summer show, ‘Artists of Fame and of Promis’.
With financial help from Mary’s family, the Scotts completed their purchase of Elm Tree Cottage and Farm at Hallatrow, Somerset. At first Scott used a room in the house as a studio but later both he and Mary had studios in the outbuildings in the courtyard: the one Scott used was in a long, low building with large French windows and whitewashed walls.
Scott took up a part-time teaching post at Bath School of Art, having presented himself to its principal, Clifford Ellis (1907–1985), a well-known graphic designer who became a leading pioneer in post-war art education.
The Scott’s second son James Michael Scott was born in Wells.
The Scotts let Elm Tree Farm to John Partridge for a year and, based in Tintagel, looked for a house to rent in Cornwall.
Following the severe damage caused to Bath by the air raids of the weekend of 25–6 April, Bath School of Art was forced to move.
One of Scott’s paintings, ‘Girl at a Sewing Machine’, was included in ‘Artists Aid Russia’, an exhibition which opened at the Wallace Collection, Hertford House, London, on 1 July (closed 4 August). The painting was mentioned (but not identified) by Clive Bell in the ‘New Statesman and Nation’: ‘Gallery III opens with an admirable picture by that uneven artist, Matthew Smith; hard by is an interesting experiment by Scott.’
Scott volunteered for the navy but was refused on the grounds that he was ‘too light’ (he was around five feet four inches in height). He served instead in the army, at first in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Based in London, he was able to continue painting in his studio at Fernshaw Road, SW10, in his spare time. Mary Scott remained with their son James at Restholme, Polzeath, in north Cornwall.
Scott exhibited at the Leicester Galleries ‘Artists of Fame and of Promise’ show and received good notices including one by Clive Bell: ‘The art of William Scott is tolerably well known in Paris and deserves to be better known in London.’
Scott’s brother Hugh was killed on board HMS Indomitable in ‘Operation Pedestal’ off the coast of Malta. Scott returned home to Enniskillen on compassionate leave.
Scott’s first one-man show opened at the Leger Galleries in Old Bond Street, London, and included 28 oils, the majority of which had been painted in France and brought back to England in the late summer of 1939. The exhibition was arranged by Robert Sielle (1895–1983), a friend who acted as agent for Scott while he was in the army (the name Robert Sielle was a play on his real name, C.L. Roberts). Sielle also ran a successful frame-making business (he had made the frames for William Nicholson’s one-man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in May 1938). Scott came to rely on him to supply frames for most of his exhibitions.
Scott petitioned the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, unsuccessfully, ‘for permission and facilities to paint’.
Although Kenneth Clark had been asked to intervene with the army on Scott’s behalf, Scott’s hopes for an appointment as an official war artist came to nothing.
Scott exhibited at both the ‘Artists Aid China’ exhibition at the Wallace Collection and at the Civil Defence Artists exhibition in New Bond Street.
Scott was commissioned by Sheila Shannon and W.J. Turner to illustrate ‘Soldiers’ Verse’, an anthology of war poems edited by Patric Dickinson. Scott produced 12 lithographs for the book, which was published in 1945 as one of a series of illustrated poetry books. The lithographs were drawn on grained zinc plates and printed by Cowell’s, a well-known firm in Ipswich.
Robert Scott returned to England from Canada; up to now Robert and James had been unaware of each other’s existence.
Scott was transferred to Halifax, West Yorkshire. For health reasons he was not sent to Burma with the rest of his unit.
No. 2 The Paragon, the house leased by Bernard Hailstone where Scott had left his paintings before leaving for Italy in 1937, was badly damaged in the Blitz after the house next door (No. 1) took a direct hit.
Although Scott was officially posted to the map-making section of the Royal Engineers stationed at Wynnstay Hall, Ruabon, in North Wales, on 4 September, a letter to Ruskin Spear dated 23 April shows that he had arrived there some months before: ‘I am still in the army stationed in North Wales, a depressing spot near Chester.’
Conditions at Wynnstay Hall, a large Victorian mansion, were fairly primitive. The owner, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1891–1949), refused to have water pipes laid to the camp, so the soldiers had to be taken in lorries to the mine at Tonypandy to wash, using the same showers as the miners. There was no electric lighting in the main building (Wynnstay Hall) and only low voltage wiring (thought to have been put in by the army during its occupation in the 1940s) in the other parts.
On the assumption that artists made good cartographers, a number of painters and graphic designers, among them Carel Weight (1908–97), Arpad Elfer (1910–99) and Henry Cliffe (1919–83), were stationed at Ruabon over the course of the war. They were allowed time to do their own work and a sketching club was formed.
Scott worked in watercolour, painting landscapes as well as a few narrative scenes.
A second solo exhibition opened at the Leger Gallery on 3 February (closed 23 February) showing 50 watercolours and drawings.
Mary Scott’s sister, Marguerite Milton (née Lucas) married Robert Sielle. The Scotts attended the wedding.
Scott was represented in the ‘Irish Exhibition of Living Art’, which opened at the National College of Art, Kildare Street, Dublin, on 21 August (closed 21 September). Scott had been invited to exhibit by John Piper, and he arranged for the Leger Gallery to lend a watercolour, ‘North Wales’.
From September 1945 to January 1946 Scott, now promoted to Sergeant in the Army Education Corps, worked as an Art Instructor under the Army Education Scheme (at the Survey Training Centre, Royal Engineers, Longleat Camp, Warminster). Longleat Camp was near enough to Hallatrow for Scott, who had the use of a car, to be able to spend some nights at home at Elm Tree Farm.
Mary and William Scott had a joint show of watercolours at the Leger Gallery.
Scott visited the ‘Exhibition of Paintings by Picasso and Matisse’ organised by L’Association Française d’Action Artistique and the British Council at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The trip was one of a number of cultural expeditions organised by the Army Education Corps.
After a long delay Scott was finally demobilised from the army. Scott evidently found it hard to adjust to his new circumstances, however.
The Scotts continued to live at Elm Tree Farm, growing their own vegetables and keeping livestock. Scott’s studio was at this time above the garage.
Felix and Julian Salmon (the Lyons directors with responsibility for the teashops) commissioned a series of lithographs by 16 British artists to make ‘the surroundings of the teashops more attractive’. Scott, along with Ruskin Spear, Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden, Duncan Grant and L.S. Lowry, designed and lithographed their own prints which went on display in Lyons teashops in October the following year. Scott became involved in the scheme through Clifford and Rosemary Ellis who also contributed to the series.
The Tate Gallery partially reopened. The exhibition ‘Braque and Rouault’ opened there the same month (closed May).
The Scotts returned to Pont-Aven briefly to recover the paintings and possessions they had left behind in 1939, but were told by their former landlady Julia Correlleau that everything had been taken by the Germans who had requisitioned the Hôtel de la Poste during the Occupation.
Scott was appointed Senior Painting Master at the Bath Academy of Art, now housed at Corsham Court in Wiltshire, the ancestral home of Lord Methuen. Mary Scott was given a post teaching sculpture. The school got underway in the autumn of 1946. Initially, Scott taught the Ministry of Education National Diploma in Design course, but, in 1948, he stopped doing so as the Senior Ministry Inspector for Higher Education Establishments, Mr E.M.O’R. Dickey, advised the Principal, Clifford Ellis, that Scott’s teaching methods were ‘unacademic’ and far too adventurous. As head of the painting department Scott recruited such new teachers as Peter Lanyon, Bryan Wynter and Terry Frost. The printmaker Henry Cliffe, who had met Scott when they were both stationed at Ruabon in 1944, enrolled as a student in 1946, joining the staff in 1950.
One of the more notable students at Corsham was Marie-Christine Trienen, a young French student, who probably arrived at Bath Academy of Art in 1951. Knowledgeable about the work of Jean Dubuffet and art brut, and working in a highly individual style in painting, sculpture, print-making and pottery, she exerted a considerable influence on many of the staff at Corsham, in particular Kenneth Armitage and Scott.
Seven paintings by Scott were included in the exhibition ‘Four Young British Painters’, organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain, which toured in the UK.
Frederick Muller asked Scott to illustrate a new edition of ‘Jane Eyre’. Owing to government paper restrictions, the book was never printed although the drawings were lithographed and proofed. (In 1949, proofs of the ‘Jane Eyre’ illustrations were exhibited at the Arts Council exhibition ‘Classics of Literature Illustrated by Contemporary Artists. An Exhibition of Drawings, Lithographs and Engravings’.)
Early in the year, the Hanover Gallery, run by Erica Brausen (1908–92), opened at 32a St George Street, just off Hanover Square, in London. Brausen, who was born into a conservative merchant bourgeois family in Düsseldorf, began her career in London at the Redfern Gallery, 20 Cork Street. The Hanover was one of the few London galleries to maintain close contacts with European artists and galleries. Erica Brausen was also interested in new artists: one of the younger painters she took on was Francis Bacon who had his first one-man show at the Hanover Gallery.
‘The Cubist Spirit in its Time’ opened at the London Gallery on 18 March (closed 3 May). The exhibition was organised by the Belgian-born dealer and collagist E.L.T. Mesens who also compiled the catalogue with the help of Robert Melville.
Scott’s ‘Girl on Beach’, 1939 was reproduced in colour in ‘The Penguin New Writing’.
Several works by Scott were included in the British Council exhibition, ‘Modern British Paintings’ (1942–1947), which toured Europe. A letter to the artist from the British Council dated 16 May 1947 sets out the plans for the exhibition of roughly 50 paintings by contemporary British artists ‘for exhibition in France, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Austria’. The idea was to represent ‘the more advanced aspects of contemporary British painting’.
The Scotts stayed in St Ives, Cornwall. There Scott met Patrick Heron (1920–99).
Scott had his first one-man show at the Leicester Galleries in London (30 paintings, mostly still lifes and nudes).
The Scotts spent over a month travelling in Italy and the south of France. Postcards sent to their son James between 4 November and 15 December show that the Scotts arrived in Rome on 4 November ‘after two days on the train’. By the end of the month they were in Florence, followed by visits to Genoa, Nice and Monte Carlo. While in Rome, they met the Italian painter Renato Guttuso (1911–87).
Scott designed the cover of the Spring Book Number of the ‘Listener’.
The publisher John Lehmann turned down Scott’s illustrations for ‘Jane Eyre’. In a letter dated 27 April, Lehmann wrote: ‘I looked at your illustrations of Jane Eyre with great interest and fascination, but I am afraid I don’t really feel we could undertake to do an edition. The plates are rather a difficult size for one thing; and for another Jane Eyre does, alas, appear in a number of editions both old and new.’
Peter (Piotr) Potworowski (1898–1962), a Polish émigré, was invited by Clifford Ellis to join the staff at Bath Academy of Art.
The Scotts sold the part of the property at Hallatrow known as Elm Tree Farm but continued to live at Elm Tree Cottage. They kept the studio outbuildings and later extended the cottage.
Scott spent about a month working at Peter (Piotr) Potworowski’s London studio in St John’s Wood.
Scott was elected a member of the London Group, an exhibiting society founded in 1913. Ruskin Spear had been elected President in 1948 and the following year he oversaw the election of a number of new members including F.E. McWilliam, who was to become a close friend of Scott, and Peter (Piotr) Potworowski.
‘From Gainsborough to Hitchens: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings from the Howard Bliss Collection’ opened at the Leicester Galleries on 5 January (closed 2 February). Howard Bliss was an important collector of Scott’s paintings, seven of which were included in the show.
‘The Private Collector: An Exhibition of Pictures and Sculpture Selected from the Members of the Contemporary Society’s Own Collections’ opened at the Tate Gallery on 23 March (closed 23 April). Two collectors showed paintings by Scott: Raymond Mortimer and Elizabeth Watt.
Ten works by Scott were included in ‘Painters’ Progress’, an exhibition organised by John Rothenstein which opened at the Whitechapel Art Gallery on 11 May (closed 15 July). John Rothenstein was then Director of the Tate Gallery and this exhibition was one of the many ways in which he demonstrated his commitment to modern British art. His theme was the development of ten contemporary artists, beginning with Duncan Grant as the most senior and ending with Prunella Clough, then aged 31 (the other artists were L.S. Lowry, Anthony Levett-Prinsep, Ivon Hitchens, Keith Vaughan, John Armstrong, John Piper and John Napper). The artists were asked to choose pictures covering their whole careers including some of their earliest and latest works.
The Scott family travelled to Pont-Aven where they spent the summer. It was a camping trip and they pitched their Bell Tent in a field outside the town. Scott took with him a painting to give to Julia Correlleau in order that he could be represented in the Hôtel de la Poste collection.
Scott was invited by the Arts Council of Great Britain to paint a large picture, no less than 45 x 60 inches (114.3 x 152.4 cm), for the exhibition ‘Sixty Paintings for ’51’, which formed part of the 1951 ‘Festival of Britain’. The painting, ‘Still Life’, 1951, which the artist considered to be a culminating point in his long series of frying-pan pictures, presented a considerable challenge.
During the course of 1950 Scott met several artists who were to become close friends. The sculptor F.E. McWilliam (1909–92), then working on large sculptures for the Festival of Britain, was one, Louis le Brocquy (b. 1916) another. Le Brocquy had arrived from Dublin and Scott introduced him to McWilliam. A third was Paul Feiler (b. 1918): Scott approached Feiler in the artist supplies shop Barton & Long in Clifton, Bristol, and asked if he could visit his studio.’
L’Ecole de Paris 1900–1950 opened at the Royal Academy. In his copy of the catalogue Scott put a pencil mark against the following paintings: Braque’s The Studio, 1949; Miró’s ‘Femme, Etoiles’, 1945; Alfred Manessier’s ‘Espace Matinal’, 1949.
Scott’s second one-man show opened at the Leicester Galleries on 1 February (closed 22 February). The exhibition attracted a number of reviews, mostly positive.
The week after the exhibition opened the Scotts visited the artist’s mother in Enniskillen.
The only self-portrait made by the artist was published on the front page of the February issue of ‘Art News & Review’, a London fortnightly produced in a newspaper format. (The editor of ‘Art News & Review’, Bernard Denvir, had developed a format for showcasing relatively new artists by reproducing their self-portraits on the front page of the magazine.)
Scott was included in the exhibition ‘21 Modern British Painters’, organised by the British Council, which toured Canada and the United States. According to a press cutting found amongst the artist’s papers, he was represented also in the Belfast Art Gallery’s show of contemporary painting.
Scott was included in ‘Sixty Paintings for ’51’, a touring exhibition organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain as part of the ‘Festival of Britain’. It opened at Manchester City Art Gallery on 2 May (the tour ended in June 1952). The artists who contributed to the exhibition were chosen from an initial list of 145 names. As it turned out, 54 artists were represented after some either refused the invitation or subsequently withdrew, or else were prevented at the last minute from submitting their canvases. In June, the exhibition was shown at the R.B.A. Galleries, Suffolk Street, London, and subsequently at the art galleries in Leicester, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, Plymouth, Leeds, Newcastle, Brighton, York and Preston. The exhibition was devised by Philip James with the aim of encouraging corporate patronage of the visual arts.
Scott supplied pictures for the ‘Exhibition of Architecture for the Public’ at Castle Street, Belfast. Exhibitors include members of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) Exhibition Design Group.
The Scotts stayed in Cornwall, at Nile Studio, Sennen.
Scott visited Paris.
Scott exhibited two unidentified abstract paintings at the annual London Group exhibition.
Scott’s work became more abstract and that summer he embarked on a series of abstract gouaches. (He would return to oil painting in the winter of 1952, developing the more linear forms of structure he had arrived at while working on paper.)
The Scotts took a flat at 12 Editha Mansions in Chelsea, London, although they continued to spend much of their time in Somerset, at Hallatrow.
An exhibition of paintings by Nicolas de Staël opened at the Matthiesen Gallery, New Bond Street, London. The show had a profound impact upon Scott’s work.
From 1–3 March, the first of the three weekend exhibitions of abstract art organised by Adrian Heath took place at 22 Fitzroy Street, where Heath had his studio.
‘Seventeen Collectors. An Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture from the Private Collections of Members of the Executive Committee of the Contemporary Art Society’ (CAS) opened at the Tate Gallery on 21 March (closed 27 April). This was a sequel to the exhibition of works from the private collections of the members of the CAS in March 1950. Works by Scott were included in the collections of Raymond Mortimer, Howard Bliss and Edward le Bas.
‘Artists for Peace Exhibition’ opened at the Royal Hotel, Woburn Place, London, on 10 June (closed 22 June). One painting by Scott is listed in the catalogue but was not shown (‘Pipe and Bowl’).
On 30 June Scott and Patrick Heron travelled to Paris where, by chance, they met Nicolas de Staël. It was almost certainly on this visit that Scott saw the large exhibition of still-life painting that left a lasting impression on him. (Scott told Alan Bowness that, in 1946, he had seen an exhibition in Paris called ‘A thousand years of still life painting’; as there is no record of such an exhibition in Paris that year the exhibition he remembered must have been ‘La Nature Morte de l’Antiquité à nos Jours’, which opened at the Orangerie des Tuileries in April 1952).
The Scotts stayed at Treganhoe Farm, Sancreed, in Cornwall. The painter Peter (Piotr) Potworowski rented a cottage nearby.
Scott informed the Leicester Galleries in an untraced letter of 20 November that he had decided to show his pictures with a different gallery, presumably the Hanover Gallery.
Scott was made a member of the Royal West of England Academy, in Bristol (Lord Methuen was the President).
‘Opposing Forces’ opened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on 28 January (closed 28 February). The exhibition was selected by Michel Tapié and Peter Watson and included work by Georges Mathieu, Henri Michaux, Alfonso Ossorio, Jackson Pollock and Jean-Paul Riopelle. It may have been on this occasion that Scott first encountered Pollock’s work (three untitled paintings of 1949 were shown) although there is no evidence that he saw the exhibition.
Scott was commissioned by the advertising agency Colman Prentis and Varley (on behalf of the department store D.H. Evans) to produce a colour drawing for Poster and Bus Advertising to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizaveth II. The poster, which shows the State Coach carrying the newly crowned Queen in procession down the Mall, was displayed on the side of 500 buses on the routes to and from D.H.Evans.
Scott exhibited at the third and final weekend exhibition of abstract art held at Adrian Heath’s studio at 22 Fitzroy Street.
The first of Scott’s many solo exhibitions opened at the Hanover Gallery, 32a St George’s Street, London, on 9 June (closed 3 July). It was visited by J.J. Sweeney, Director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and by Andrew Ritchie, Director of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Scott’s work was included in two group shows in London: ‘Eleven British Painters’ at the ICA Gallery in Dover Street, which opened on 3 July (closed 1 August), and ‘Space in Colour’ at the Hanover Gallery (organised by Patrick Heron), which opened on 7 July (closed 7 August).
6 July–15 August
Scott spent several weeks as guest instructor at the Banff School of Fine Arts (now Banff Centre) at the University of Alberta, Canada.
Scott returned to England via New York where the dealer Martha Jackson invited him to stay in her gallery at 22 East 66th Street so that he could meet various leading New York School painters, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. (The Martha Jackson Gallery was to represent Scott in the United States until its closure in 1979.) Jackson also had a house at Southampton on Long Island and she invited Scott to spend a weekend there, during which time he visited de Kooning’s improvised studio on the porch of Leo and Illeana Castelli’s house in East Hampton, where he was photographed in front of a painting in progress from the ‘Woman’ series. Martha Jackson also arranged a visit to the painter Alfonso Ossorio who had bought Jean Dubuffet’s original collection of art brut. This was housed on his large estate, The Creeks, also in East Hampton.
Scott was one of the artists invited to submit a painting for the exhibition ‘Painting into Textiles’, which opened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, on 21 October (closed 14 November 1953). The exhibition was sponsored by the ‘Ambassador’, an international magazine promoting British exports. The firm that produced the textiles was David Whitehead Ltd, an enterprise which through its championing of modern design had gained particular recognition at the time of the ‘Festival of Britain’ in 1951. Several of Scott’s paintings (in gouache) were bought by David Whitehead Ltd and made into textiles.
Twelve oil paintings by Scott were included in the British Council’s contribution to the second Bienal at São Paulo, Brazil.
James Johnson Sweeney included Scott in his ‘Younger European Painters’ show at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, which opened on 2 December (closed 21 February 1954). The exhibition toured to six other US centres. Scott was the only British artist represented in the exhibition.
Scott exhibited two recent paintings in ‘Younger American and European Painters’, which opened at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, on 18 May (closed 12 June).
Scott showed drawings in a joint exhibition with Francis Bacon at the Hanover Gallery, which opened on 8 June (closed 16 July).
Five paintings by Scott were included in ‘3 British Artists Hepworth Scott Bacon’, which opened at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York on 12 October (closed 6 November). Hepworth was represented by five sculptures and six works in oil and pencil, while Bacon showed four oils.
Scott was one of the artists included in the book ‘Nine Abstract Artists: their work and theory’ introduced by Lawrence Alloway, published by Tiranti Press, London. The artists were those who had participated in the weekend exhibitions organised by Adrian Heath. The book took the form of a 16-page text by Alloway followed by statements by each of the nine artists. Heath was responsible for the book, which had the same format as one he had brought out the previous year, ‘Abstract Painting: Its Origin and Meaning’.
The exhibition ‘Nine Abstract Artists’ (based on Alloway’s book of the same title) opened at the Redfern Gallery, London, on 11 January (closed 29 January). Scott showed three paintings, each listed as ‘Abstract composition (Oil)’, and a print. None has been firmly identified.
Four paintings by Scott were included in the exhibition ‘The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors’, which opened at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on 10 May (closed 7 August). The exhibition, organised by Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, toured to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Los Angeles County Museum and San Francisco Museum of Art. The catalogue published a rare statement by the artist. To coincide with the Museum of Modern Art show Martha Jackson showed Younger ‘American and European Painters’ which opened on 18 May (closed 12 June). It included two paintings by Scott.
Scott showed four paintings in the exhibition, ‘Bacon, Scott, Sutherland’ at the Hanover Gallery, which opened on 28 June (closed 29 July). The aim of the exhibition was to show the artists as representatives of three different genres: figure (Bacon), still life (Scott) and landscape (Sutherland). It also made the point that the most advanced new art in Britain was not confined to abstraction.
Scott showed a sculpture in the exhibition ‘New Sculptors and Painter-Sculptors’ at the ICA in London. He would make sculpture alongside his paintings throughout the 1950s.
The Scotts spent a family holiday in a rented apartment at L’Ametlla de Mar, a fishing port on the Catalan coast. The artists Jo Gee and Bill Brooker were also staying in the town. Returning from Spain, the Scotts visited Lascaux in south-western France to see the Palaeolithic cave paintings (a visit possibly inspired by the exhibition of Henri Breuil’s copies of the cave paintings which had been shown at the Arts Council Gallery in October the previous year). Scott would have seen not only the celebrated paintings of animals but abstract imagery composed of dots and lines as well as geometric shapes such as triangles, circles and pentagons.
‘Piet Mondrian 1872–1944’ opened at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Scott visited the exhibition (a copy of the catalogue was found amongst his papers).
Scott was included in the ‘Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting’, organised by the Department of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute.
‘Modern Art in the United States: A Selection from the Collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York’ opened at the Tate Gallery on 5 January (closed 12 February). The final room of the exhibition, which made a considerable impact, was given over to major works by the abstract expressionists.
Having decided to retire from his post at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, in order to concentrate on his own work, Scott rented a studio in Chelsea (his resignation meant he no longer had the use of his large studio at Corsham).
Herbert Read included Scott in his selection of recent work shown as ‘Critic’s Choice’ at Arthur Tooth & Sons, London. The exhibition opened on 11 September (closed 6 October).
‘William Scott Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture’ opened at the Hanover Gallery (closed 26 October). The reviews were mixed, particularly about the painter’s recent nudes. The most enthusiastic response came from another painter/writer, Andrew Forge, who was struck by the painter’s modelling of the surfaces which he saw as sculptural and central to ‘the beauty of these pictures’.
‘Vision and Reality’ opened at Wakefield City Art Museum on 26 September (closed 26 October). The exhibition, which was made up of leading contemporary British painters, was organised by Helen Kapp, the forward-looking director of the museum. October
The Scotts visited Paris and Rome, returning at the end of the month. In a letter dated 31 October (the day after their return), Scott wrote to Martha Jackson saying, ‘We had a marvellous time in Rome, the Burris [Alberto Burri and his wife] were very kind and introduced Mary and I to painters in Rome. I am very impressed with Alberto’s painting, he has a beautiful touch.’ Scott also mentions seeing works by the sculptor Germaine Richier in Paris. Scott’s visit to Pompeii (to which he referred in his 1959 British Council Recorded Illustrated Lecture) must have taken place during this trip to Italy.
Scott’s first one-man show at the Martha Jackson Gallery, now located in new premises at 32 East 69th Street, New York, opened on 29 October (closed 17 November). Scott did not go over to New York for the opening.
At some point in 1956, William and Mary Scott posed for portrait busts by F.E. McWilliam. (In January 1957, McWilliam sent Sir John Rothenstein, Director of the Tate Gallery, photographs of three bronze sculptures; ‘William Scott, Mary Scott and Elisabeth Frink’, the last a full length portrait of the 26 year old sculptor. The Tate Trustees decided to buy the Scott busts.)
‘Statements. A Review of British Abstract Art in 1956’ was held at the ICA, in Dover Street, London. Scott was not included in this exhibition, whether because he declined to participate, or was not invited is not known.
Martha Jackson came to Europe in June, stopping briefly in London to see the artist’s latest paintings, before going on to Paris where the Scotts joined her for a few days early the following month.
Scott was invited to show in the first ‘John Moores Liverpool Exhibition’, which opened at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, on 10 November (closed 11 January 1958).
Scott was represented by an oil (unidentified) in the survey exhibition, ‘Dimensions: British Abstract Art 1948–1957’, which opened on 6 December (closed 21 December). The exhibition was organised by Lawrence Alloway, and held at the O’Hana Gallery, London.
Scott was represented by two oils and three large charcoal figure drawings in the exhibition ‘New Trends in British Art’ held at the Rome-New York Art Foundation in Rome. The exhibition was part of a programme of cooperation between the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and the Rome-New York Art Foundation. The works were selected by Lawrence Alloway who also wrote the ‘Introduction’ to the catalogue (the ‘Foreword’ was written by Herbert Read).
Hugh Scrutton, Director of the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, proposed buying the painting Scott had sent to the ‘John Moores Liverpool Exhibition’ the previous November (‘Liverpool Still Life’, 1957). However, the idea was rejected by the Libraries, Museums and Arts Committee after some members had expressed the views that the work was an ‘insult’ and a ‘monstrosity’ and that ‘the city council would not support the expenditure’. The painting was acquired later that year by the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris.
Scott was one of three British artists chosen by the British Council to represent Britain at the XXIX Venice Biennale: the other two were Kenneth Armitage and William Hayter. The selection was made by a committee headed by Sir Philip Hendy and included Herbert Read, J.M. Richards and John Rothenstein. The Scotts stayed in Venice during the Biennale, having found an apartment (1063 San Trovaso) to rent behind the Accademia large enough to accommodate the couple and their two sons. Scott was able to paint in a studio provided for him by the Accademia, where he had the space to work on large size canvases. Coming across the work of Jasper Johns for the first time was memorable for Scott. Flag, 1954–5 (now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York) was hanging in the ‘Sezione Internazionale Artisti Giovani’ in the Palazzo Centrale (Sala XXXIV). The Scotts also met and formed a lasting friendship with the painter Antoni Tàpies, who was representing Spain at the Biennale, and his wife Teresa. Like Scott, Tàpies had been given his first New York show at the Martha Jackson Gallery.
The Scotts, with their son James, left Venice to return to England on 4 September. They visited Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, before driving through Switzerland to Brussels where they arrived on 9 September in time to visit the World’s Fair, Expo 58. They travelled on to London the following day. The prestige afforded by the Biennale, and the success of the British Pavilion, did much to secure Scott’s international standing, as did the European tour the British Council arranged to follow on from the Biennale.
Scott was commissioned by the architectural firm Yorke Rosenberg and Mardall to paint a large mural for the entrance hall of Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the first National Health hospital in Britain (the mural had first been discussed in 1956 as a project to be undertaken by Paul Feiler). The mural went through many stages and was eventually completed by September 1961, more than 18 months after the hospital opened.
Scott was among the 23 painters and 12 sculptors chosen to represent Great Britain in the ‘Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture’ held at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. The exhibition opened on 5 December (closed 8 February 1959).
At some point in 1958 Scott began working with Alastair Morton, the director of the textile firm Edinburgh Weavers.
Scott recorded an illustrated lecture about his work for the British Council. The slides for the lecture have disappeared but several typescripts indicate that there were 34 in all (with the title of each work given in the margin). The lecture charts the artist’s development from the paintings of 1938 to ‘Upright Abstract’, 1957.
‘The New American Painting’ opened at the Tate Gallery on 24 February (closed 22 March). The exhibition, which showed the work of 17 painters, was arranged jointly by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Arts Council of Great Britain. The catalogue, a copy of which Scott owned, carried an introduction by Alfred H. Barr, then Director of the Museum Collections at MoMA.
‘Paintings by William Scott’ opened at the Martha Jackson Gallery on 24 March (closed 18 April). The exhibition consisted of eleven oils and three pencil drawings. The Scotts went over to New York for the opening, even though Scott himself was reluctant to do so.
Scott was one of three painters interviewed by David Sylvester for a BBC radio talks programme. The other two were Alan Davie and Peter Lanyon. Sylvester began the programme by explaining that he had chosen the three painters of their generation (born between 1913 and 1920) with the biggest international reputation. As he saw it, they were three painters whose approach to abstraction was ‘altogether less doctrinaire’ than it had been during the first half of the twentieth-century.
Mark Rothko and his family came to stay at Hallatrow. Rothko spent the summer of 1959 touring Europe with his wife and daughter, arriving in London in August. The Rothkos stayed first with the Scotts before travelling to St Erth, Cornwall, where they were met by Peter Lanyon (who had known Rothko since 1957 when Lanyon had his first New York show). About a week or so before Rothko’s visit Scott had begun work on the mural for Altnagelvin Hospital. The timing was fortuitous. Before Rothko left for Europe he had nearly completed a large commission for a public space, his murals for The Four Seasons restaurant on the ground floor of the Seagram Building in New York.
‘Skaill’, a furnishing fabric in jacquard-woven wool, was included in a new range of textiles produced by Edinburgh Weavers and shown at their premises in Mount Street, London, W1.
‘Blue Abstract’, 1959 was awarded first prize in the British painting section at the second ‘John Moores Liverpool Exhibition’. The international jury was made up of the Italian critic Giulio Carlo Argan, Dr Kurt Martin and Professor A. Hammacher, Director of the Kröller-Müller Museum, Amsterdam. The grand prize of £1,000 went to Patrick Heron for ‘Black Painting, Red, Brown and Olive’ (1959).
A one-man exhibition opened at the Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zurich (closed 12 December). Many of the 70 works shown were listed as ‘Painting, 1959’ and not all have been identified.
Scott was included in a survey exhibition of British painting from 1720 to 1960, organised by the British Council, which opened at the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, on 4 May. The following month it was shown at the Hermitage in Leningrad (now St Petersburg).
William Scott opened at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover on 2 June (closed 17 July). It toured to three other cities in Germany: Freiburg, Dortmund and Munich. The exhibition was mostly selected from the work of the past three years but also included a few paintings from the 1930s and 1940s.
Scott was represented in ‘Das junge England’, an exhibition of paintings at the Galerie Würthle, Vienna. The exhibition was opened by the British Ambassador to Austria, Sir James Bowker. It included works by Alan Davie, Derrick Greaves and Bryan Wynter.
Timothy Simon of Curwen Prints invited Scott to pursue lithographic printmaking. Stanley Jones, the master printer at Curwen Studio, helped Scott explore the possibilities of stone lithography and together they made the print Arran, a prelude to a more ambitious series of lithographs undertaken the following year.
‘William Scott Paintings and Gouache’s opened at Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, on 9 January (closed 11 February). Scott did not attend the opening. Of the 21 works shown 11 were oils. The short catalogue introduction was written by John Anthony Thwaites, an English critic based in Germany.
Scott was one of the judges for a competition held at the Young Contemporaries’ show in the R.B.A. Galleries, London, for a mural for Courtaulds. The other judges were Carel Weight and Keith Vaughan; the commission went to Alan Jones.
Scott was one of 15 artists to join in supporting the playwright Arnold Wesker (the artistic director of Centre 42, a cultural movement for popularising the arts) in his campaign to interest the trade unions in the arts. The other artists were: Henry Moore, John Piper, Barbara Hepworth, Keith Vaughan, Ivon Hitchens, Julian Trevelyan, Edward Bawden, Sidney Nolan, Derrick Greaves, F.E. McWilliam, Leonard Rosoman, Michael Ayrton, Peter Lanyon and Feliks Topolski. They joined a group of 25 artists already supporting Wesker’s campaign.
The Scotts bought a new house, 13 Edith Terrace, Chelsea, a few minutes’ walk from their flat in Edith Grove.
‘William Scott’ opened at the Hanover Gallery on 17 May (closed 17 June). It was the artist’s first one-man show in England for five years and included 21 oils and 7 gouaches. The catalogue introduction was by John Russell.
Scott was one of four artists chosen by the British Council to represent their country at the ‘VI Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo’. The other three were Peter Lanyon, Lynn Chadwick (sculpture and drawings) and Merlyn Evans (prints). The exhibition toured South America in various forms: works by Scott and Evans were shown at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro (25 January–25 February 1962), and Scott and Chadwick shared an exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires (14–29 April 1962). Scott was awarded the acquisition prize.
An exhibition of Mark Rothko’s paintings, previously shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, opened at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, on 10 October (closed November). Rothko arrived a week ahead of the opening presumably to oversee the hanging for which he had provided detailed written instructions. According to Mary Scott’s diary, they dined with him at the Etoile in Soho on 2 October.
The Arts Council of Great Britain touring exhibition, ‘Drawing Towards Painting’, opened at the Leicester Art Gallery, London, on 21 October (it closed a year later on 13 October 1962). The exhibition, which was organised by David Sylvester and seen in 12 venues in the UK, included 9 drawings by Scott.
Scott took part in the ‘International Exhibition of Modern Jewellery 1890–1961’ organised by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum and shown at Goldsmiths’ Hall, Cheapside, London. The exhibition opened on 26 October (closed 2 December).
The mural Scott had painted for the entrance hall of the Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry went on view at the Tate Gallery on 28 November prior to its installation in the hospital. The mural remained on display throughout December.
(In addition to the mural, Scott was commissioned by the architect Eugene Rosenberg (of Yorke Rosenberg and Mardall) to design curtain material for Altnagelvin Hospital. The linen textile is called ‘Whithorn’ and was printed in 1961. The production was given to the Edinburgh Weavers and the cloth was printed at Stead McAlpin, a Carlisle-based printworks.)
A handsomely illustrated article on Scott by Robert Melville appeared in the Winter issue of ‘Motif 8’, a thrice-yearly magazine of the visual arts edited by Ruari McLean.
The mural for Altnagelvin Hospital arrived in Londonderry on 15 January. On 27 February the mural was officially unveiled by Mary Scott. The public response to the piece, composed of abstract motifs, was one of bewilderment.
Illness appears to have prevented the artist from painting for a while.
‘William Scott 20 Gouaches 1952’ opened at the Hanover Gallery on 2 May (closed 1 June).
A rug designed by Scott was included in an exhibition at the ICA, London, which opened in early May (closed 12 May). It was one of 11 rugs designed by contemporary artists and made at the Blackfriars Settlement, a charity based in Nelson Square, London. The other artists taking part in the scheme were John Ernest, John McHale, John Plumb, Joe Tilson and William Turnbull.
On 3 June the Scotts left for the south of France. In Nice they met up with Marie-Christine Treinen (the young French artist who, ten years earlier, had made such an impression on the staff and students at Corsham), before moving on to Italy in time for the opening of the ‘Venice Biennale’. They returned to England at the end of the month.
Scott was included in ‘Art from 1900 to the Present Day’, the opening exhibition of the new Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts in Vienna (21 September–4 November).
William Scott Paintings 1952–1962 opened at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, on 25 September (closed 20 October). Included were 15 oils on canvas and works on paper in various media. The catalogue introduction was by Alan Bowness.
David Anderson, the son of Martha Jackson, opened the Galerie Anderson-Mayer at 15 rue de l’Echaudé, Paris. His business partner was a fellow American, Jack Mayer. On 12 November, the Scotts went over to Paris for a party given that evening to celebrate the opening; the gallery put on a small mixed show in which Scott was represented by two paintings.
Scott was one of 50 painters and sculptors included in ‘British Art Today’, an exhibition of contemporary British painting and sculpture organised by the San Francisco Museum of Art that opened on 13 November to coincide with San Francisco’s London Week (closed 16 December). The exhibition travelled to the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts (15 January–17 February 1963) and Santa Barbara Museum of Art (7 March–7 April 1963).
Scott accepted a teaching post at the Royal Academy Schools. The appointment was reported in the ‘Evening Standard’ (16 November): ‘William Scott, the distinguished painter, has agreed to teach at the Royal Academy Schools. As he does not like to be tied down to teaching either frequently or regularly, he will be making sporadic appearances about four times a term.’
In the course of 1963, Ronald Alley’s small monograph ‘William Scott’ was published by Methuen. It was the first book to appear on the artist.
Scott was represented in the ‘European Community Contemporary Painting Exhibition (Marzotto Prize)’ which opened at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, on 7 March (closed 4 April). This was the only UK showing of a European tour of paintings submitted for six prizes. The competition, financed by the Italian textile manufacturer Count Gaetano Marzotto, took place in Europe every two years. This was the first time Britain had been included and the international panel of ten judges included two British art world luminaries, Herbert Read and Roland Penrose. The first prize went to the Chilean-born painter Roberto Matta for his painting ‘La Question Djamilia’. Besides Scott, the British artists included Peter Lanyon, R.B. Kitaj, Joe Tilson and Victor Pasmore.
‘British Painting in the Sixties’, featuring three works by Scott, opened on 1 June at the Tate Gallery and the Whitechapel Art Gallery (closed 30 June) in London. Because of its size the exhibition, which was organised by the Contemporary Art Society (CAS), was shown simultaneously at both galleries. The division was made roughly according to age, with most of the younger painters shown at the Whitechapel. A part of the selection later travelled to Manchester City Art Gallery, Glasgow City Art Gallery and the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. In September, the same selection was shown at the Helmhaus, Zurich, during the Federation of British Industries Fortnight, the first time a CAS exhibition had been sent abroad.
‘William Scott Recent Paintings’ opened at the Hanover Gallery, London, on 5 June (closed 6 July). The catalogue lists 24 oils painted between 1962 and 1963.
In a letter dated 5 July, Moritz von Bomhard, Consulate to the Ford Foundation, invited Scott to be an Artist in Residence in Berlin. Von Bomhard was following up an initial approach made the previous month through the Hanover Gallery by the Comité des Arts du Congrès pour la Liberté de la Culture in Paris.
‘Victor Pasmore/William Scott’ opened at the Kunsthalle in Berne on 12 July (closed 18 August). The catalogue lists 54 works by Scott in various media. The Scotts went over for the opening, arriving in Berne on 10 July. On 14 July they drove over the Simplon Pass to Orta where they stayed for several days, returning to London via Paris on 24 July.
Mary Scott’s diary records the purchase of Bennett’s Hill Farm. The property, a dairy and grazing farm set in 64 acres, was in Coleford, a village in the Mendip Hills, five miles west of Frome in Somerset. It had originally been offered for auction on 31 August 1962 but the bid made by the Scotts failed to secure it. A second attempt to buy the farm the following month also failed, so it was with some satisfaction that Mary Scott wrote in her diary on 27 July 1963, ‘Farm now ours.’ The largest of the barns was turned into Scott’s studio.
‘William Scott’ opened at the Ulster Museum, Belfast, on 12 September (closed 5 October). The exhibition was organised in association with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and was selected by Anne Crookshank, Keeper of Art at the museum. The majority of the 70 works listed in the catalogue had travelled to Belfast from the exhibition held in Berne in July. The Scotts went over to Belfast before the opening, spending a couple of days with the Northern Irish collector Sir John Heygate, at Bellarena, not far from Londonderry.
An exhibition of ten paintings opened in Paris at the Galerie Anderson-Mayer, on 29 October (closed 23 November).
‘The Dyer Bequest’ was opened by Bryan Robertson at the City Art Gallery, Bristol, on 7 November. The Bequest consisted of eight large paintings painted in the previous three years by contemporary British artists and bought by Bristol out of money left by L.R. Dyer, a local benefactor. One of the paintings was Scott’s ‘Black, Grey and Blue’, 1960, recently exhibited in Berne and Belfast.
The Scotts arrived in Berlin on 13 November, staying in a large apartment at 33 Dahlem, Podbielskiallee 58. Scott was one of several recipients of a Ford Foundation grant (and among the first artists to participate in the Artists in Residence programme); others included André Masson, Emilio Vedova and, for January 1964 only, Antonio Saura from Spain. Writers included Piers Paul Read and W.H. Auden (who arrived when the Scotts were leaving), and Iannis Xenakis, Elliott Carter, Hans-Werner Henze and Roger Sessions were among the composers. Scott became friendly with the distinguished art dealer Rudolf Springer who had a gallery on the Kurfürstendamm. Springer exhibited the work of a number of Ford Foundation Fellows such as Vedova and Piero Dorazio. He also owned several gouaches by Scott, presumably bought directly from the artist.
Scott participated in ‘54–64 Painting and Sculpture of a Decade’, which opened at the Tate Gallery on 22 April (closed 28 June). The exhibition was selected by Alan Bowness, Lawrence Gowing and Philip James, and organised by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; 160 living artists were represented, and their works hung in order of the artists’ dates of birth. Scott showed five large oils painted between 1954 and 1962.
Scott was represented in ‘Documenta III’, which opened in Kassel on 27 June (closed 5 October). Scott showed five works painted between 1960 and 1963.
Scott turned down an invitation from Professor Dr Hans Fegers to teach at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart.
Scott took part in ‘Stadien und Impulse’, which opened at the Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, on 11 September (closed 25 October).
Scott was represented in ‘Britische Malerei der Gegenwart’, which opened at the Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, on 30 October (closed 5 December).
Alan Bowness’s monograph, ‘William Scott’, was published by Percy Lund, Humphries & Co. Ltd. It remained the main reference book on Scott until the publication of Norbert Lynton’s monograph in 2004. The book, which included contributions from two foreign authors, Michel Ragon and Werner Schmalenbach, was well received (Schmalenbach’s essay was a reprint of the introduction he had written for the catalogue of Scott’s exhibition at Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, in June–July 1960).
The Scotts left Berlin for good and returned to London.
‘William Scott Recent Paintings’ opened at the Hanover Gallery on 28 September (closed 22 October).
Scott travelled to Hamburg to take up his post as a visiting professor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste. Scott had been approached by the Director of the Hamburg art school several years before, asking him to accept the post of ‘Guest Professor’. Nothing seems to have come of that initiative but the school persisted, and in June 1965 the Director wrote to Scott expressing his delight that the artist had accepted the invitation to teach during the winter term. (The winter term began on 19 October and ended on 15 March 1966. The artist’s diary shows that he travelled to Hamburg four times between December 1965 and March 1966).
Scott was included in ‘Private View’, Lord Snowdon’s celebrated look at the 1960s British art world. The texts on the artists were written by the critic John Russell and Bryan Robertson (director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery), but the publication was dominated by Snowdon’s photography. The book was divided into four parts: a survey of the background to the period between 1945 and 1965; artists ‘whose reputation was well in hand by 1950 or 1955’; the machinery of the art world, and lastly, artists who had gained recognition in the past few years. The text on Scott, who was included in the second part, was written by John Russell and accompanied by two photographs of Scott in his London studio, one in colour, the other in black-and-white.
Scott was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the New Year’s Honours List. The investiture took place on 15 March.
Scott worked on a new series of six lithographs, ‘Odeon Suite’, which was printed by Matthieu AG in Zurich. The series, named after the Odeon Café in Zurich, was published in London the following year by Editions Alecto. The artist travelled back and forth to Zurich while proofing the series.
The Dublin-based architect Ronald Tallon approached Scott on behalf of the firm Michael Scott and Partners to say they were putting forward a proposal to the Radió Telefís Éireann (RTE) Authority to have works by Irish artists in the Authority’s new headquarters at Montrose, Donnybrook, Dublin. Scott responded to the commission by designing a large abstract painting which was hung in the entrance foyer of the administration building.
The artist was awarded the Minister of Foreign Affairs Prize at the ‘5th International Biennial Exhibition of Prints’ in Tokyo. The British section of this touring exhibition was assembled by the British Council. The exhibition opened at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, in December 1966 (closed 22 January 1967). It moved on to the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto (closed 19 February).
‘William Scott: Exhibition of Oil Paintings’ opened at the Dawson Gallery, Dublin, on 19 January (closed 7 February). Among the 25 works included in the exhibition were a number of large canvases painted between 1961 and 1966.
Scott completed the mural for the RTE Authority, outside Dublin, commissioned by the firm Michael Scott and Partners.
‘W. Scott Paintings 1967’ opened at the Hanover Gallery on 17 October (closed 10 November).
‘Recent British Painting: Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Collection’ opened at the Tate Gallery on 15 November (closed 22 December). In 1964 the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation invited Lilian Somerville (Director, Fine Art Department, British Council), Alan Bowness (Senior Lecturer in the History of Art, Courtauld Institute, University of London) and Norman Reid (Director, Tate Gallery) to make a collection of recent British art. Scott was represented by two large paintings, ‘Circles Diminishing’, 1961 and ‘Blue Form on White’, 1964.
Scott was invited by the Art Centre Foundation in Lusaka to take part in an initiative to promote art and design in Zambia. The Art Centre Foundation was set up by the Anglo American Corporation (Central Africa) Limited, a mining company, in consultation with the Zambian Ministry of Co-operatives, Youth and Social Development. The aim of the foundation was to help Zambian artists mount exhibitions of their work, to provide bursaries and scholarships, and to arrange national and international exhibitions of art. Scott was accompanied by William Brooker and Ronald Alley (Tate Gallery). The plan provided for at least 60 works of art by Scott and Brooker to be flown to Zambia as well ‘as others which may be considered suitable’. No details have been found of which works were sent. Scott left for the eight-day trip on 10 September. He obviously intended to visit Egypt on the way back as his passport contains a visa issued on 29 August 1968 by the Consulate General of the United Arab Republic. Whether or not he paid a quick visit to Cairo remains uncertain. An entry in Mary Scott’s diary for 18 September reads: ‘M [Mary] goes to Cairo’ but is crossed out. If Scott did go to Cairo it must have been a lightening visit as a hotel booking confirmation shows that the couple arrived separately in Athens between 21 and 22 September. They visited Delphi, Corinth and Nafplion before returning to London on 7 October.
Scott travelled to Ireland visiting Kilkenny, Glengariff, Westport, Donegal and Enniskillen, meeting up with old friends such as Kathleen Bridle and Joan Trimble. He also stayed with his friend Sir John Heygate at Bellarena, County Londonderry, before returning to London.
Martha Jackson died in California on 4 July. The following month her son, David Anderson, was appointed President of the Martha Jackson Gallery.
‘William Scott: Edinburgh Festival Exhibition of New Gouaches’ opened at the Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, on 22 August (closed 13 September).
Scott responded to an appeal from Sheelagh Flanagan, wife of the artist, Terence Flanagan, for a work of art to be contributed to an exhibition of Irish art in the Queen’s University art gallery, Dublin, ‘and sold in aid of the victims of the Belfast disturbances in August’. Rioting had broken out in Northern Ireland triggered by the Apprentice Boys’ Parade held on 12 August. This led to a three-day clash in the Bogside area of Belfast between the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Irish Nationalist and Catholic residents in which seven people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
The National Portrait Gallery, London, asked Scott to sit for a portrait photograph. (The sitting took place at the studio of the appointed photographer, Godfrey Argent, on 13 February 1970.)
‘William Scott 24 Works on Paper’ opened at the Hanover Gallery on 6 November (closed 6 December). Many of the same works had been included in the exhibition at the Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, in August of the same year.
‘John Moores Liverpool 7’ opened in Liverpool on 26 November (closed 26 January 1970). Scott was on the Selection Committee, together with Robyn Denny, R.B. Kitaj, Anthony Hill, Howard Hodgkin and Hugh Scrutton.
On 25 February, Mark Rothko killed himself in his New York studio.
On 28 May, Scott attended the opening of the Rothko Room at the Tate in which nine paintings presented by Rothko to the gallery were put on display on Millbank (they now hang in Tate Modern). The works had arrived at the Tate Gallery on 25 February, the day of Rothko’s suicide. Under the heading ‘Rothko’s Gift’, ‘The Times’ reported on the event noting the presence of Scott, ‘the first European artist to visit Rothko in New York in 1953, when he had seen only one work of his in reproduction, but had heard of his reputation among young American artists’. The article goes on to quote Scott saying that Rothko ‘had a very strong feeling for England’. Rothko’s paintings were originally intended for the Four Seasons Restaurant on the ground floor of the Seagram Building in New York, a commission the artist had mentioned to Scott when he visited him in 1959 at Elm Tree Cottage, Hallatrow.
Around the end of this year Mary Scott was taken ill. She was subsequently diagnosed with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder.
‘A Girl Surveyed’, a small book containing 11 ‘drawings in blue’ by Scott, accompanied by five poems by Edward Lucie-Smith, was published by the Hanover Gallery to accompany an exhibition of works on paper on the same theme. According to James Scott, his father had intended to include his own erotic poems but the Hanover Gallery had persuaded him otherwise.
Scott lent two works (unidentified) to the inaugural exhibition at Hillsborough Arts Centre in County Down, Northern Ireland.
Scott contributed a gouache to ‘Variations on a theme of Titian’, a campaign organised by the ballet critic and writer Richard Buckle to save Titian’s ‘Death of Actaeon’ for the nation. Buckle had asked a number of artists to contribute works, which were to be sold at a fundraising gala: these were reproduced in ‘Art & Artists’, August–September, 1971.
During the first few months of the year Scott made a second illustrated, recorded lecture for the British Council. The first lecture had been recorded in 1959, and in view of the major retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery opening in April, an updated version was required.
A documentary film on Scott, produced by Arts Council, was recorded for the BBC. A letter to Scott from BBC TV, dated 5 April 1972, reveals that part of the film had been shot in Scott’s Somerset studio on 29 and 30 March, ‘in connection with “Review”’, the name of the programme, which was timed to coincide with the Scott retrospective exhibition held at the Tate Gallery in April (see below). It was broadcast on 21 April.
‘William Scott, Paintings Drawings and Gouaches 1938–1971’, opened at the Tate Gallery on 19 April (closed 29 May). This major retrospective exhibition was organised by Alan Bowness in collaboration with the artist. The catalogue was written by Bowness and was his second text to appear on the artist (the first was his monograph of 1964). The exhibition was designed by the artist’s son, Robert Scott. Critical reaction to the exhibition was generally favourable, particularly about the work of the 1950s.
On 27 April Scott was filmed in the exhibition by the BBC for an edition of the arts programme ‘Omnibus’. The programme was transmitted on 4 May.
The Scotts left England to spend two weeks travelling in Switzerland, Italy and France. During their stay they took in various commercial galleries in Milan interested in showing Scott’s paintings: Galleria Blu, Falchi Arte Moderna and Lorenzelli Arte. On their way back they visited Gustave Courbet’s house at Ornans (Doubs). They returned to London via Calais on 14 November.
‘William Scott’ opened at the Martha Jackson Gallery on 3 January (closed 10 February). The Scotts had left for New York on 29 December 1972 to attend the opening, staying in the Hamptons before travelling to Buffalo, New York, and from there to Toronto.
‘Ulster Faces II: Kathleen Bridle William Scott T.P. Flanagan’ opened in Enniskillen on 12 February (closed 22 February).
The Hanover Gallery closed down on 31 March.
William and Mary left for India on 28 March, where they visited Delhi and Agra. On 2 April they left for Singapore, and from there they travelled to Perth, Australia. The visit to Australia was at the invitation of the British Council in New South Wales, which had arranged for Scott to give a lecture tour. At the suggestion of Lou Klepac, Scott was also one of the judges for the Perth Prize for Drawing International 1973. (The AUS$1,000 prize was awarded to Domenico de Clario for his drawing, ‘Australia II’.) After Perth, the couple travelled to Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
The Scotts arrived in Mexico on 6 May, and stayed five days in Mexico City before moving on to Oaxacha. They flew back to London on 15 May.
Between 10 January and 21 March Scott made six visits to the Printmaking Department of the Royal College of Art, London, as a Visiting Lecturer. In February, he was included in an exhibition of work at the Royal College of Art by staff (past and present) of the Printmaking Department.
‘William Scott Neue Bilder’ opened at Gimpel & Hanover Galerie, Zurich, on 9 March (closed 13 April). The catalogue lists 19 oils painted between 1971 and 1974, 16 of which were painted in 1973. The catalogue printed extracts from Hilton Kramer’s review in the ‘New York Times’ of the exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery in January 1973.
Scott was invited by the painter Peter Blake to participate in ‘The Last Festival’, an exhibition at the Festival Gallery, Bath. The exhibition opened on 23 August (closed 14 September). In a letter dated 26 April 1974, asking Scott to send a painting, Blake told him that the list of contributors was as diverse and ‘classy’ as he could make it, the common denominator being that the artists lived or worked close to Bath. Among the other exhibitors were Howard Hodgkin, John Hoyland, Richard Smith, Joe Tilson and John Eaves.
‘William Scott Recent Paintings’ opened at Gimpel Fils, London, on 3 September (closed 28 September). The exhibition had been shown earlier in the year at Gimpel & Hanover Galerie, Zurich.
Scott was included in ‘British Painting ‘74’, which opened at the Hayward Gallery on 26 September (closed 17 November). The Arts Council had invited Andrew Forge, a painter as well as an art critic, to organise the exhibition which was the second in a projected series of biennial surveys. The first, ‘The New Art’, selected by Anne Seymour, had taken place in 1972. Her choice had concentrated on sixteen new generation avant-garde artists and Forge’s exhibition was a spirited rejoinder to what had proved to be a personal and highly controversial selection. His first step was to absent himself from the selection process by asking 25 painters, including Scott, to nominate up to ten artists for inclusion in the Biennial.
This year is unusual in that Scott appears to have painted only one work in oils and even the date of this work is uncertain as it was signed and dated many years later. The artist’s energy seems to have gone into producing works on paper of which over 120 in various media are recorded. Among these was an offset lithograph, ‘Blue Still Life’, commissioned by the Department of the Environment and printed by the Curwen Studio. It was the only unlimited print made by Scott.
‘William Scott “Drawings Surveyed”’ opened at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, on 4 January (closed 1 February). The exhibition was presented on three floors and included over 50 drawings spanning the years from 1956. The Scotts attended the private view.
‘William Scott Gouachen’ opened at Galerie Angst + Orny, Munich, on 8 January (closed 19 January). According to the owner of the gallery, Helga Orny, the exhibition was not a success, a fact she attributed to Munich’s conservative climate. A handwritten list of works found amongst the artist’s papers is headed ‘Gallery Orny’ and suggests that Scott may have shown five oils as well as gouaches and drawings.
Bryan Wynter died on 2 February, and Roger Hilton on 23 February.
‘William Scott: Exhibition of Drawings’ opened at the Gallery Moos, Toronto, on 5 April (closed 24 April). The exhibition was essentially the one that had been shown at the Martha Jackson Gallery in January of the same year.
Scott received an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art.
The Scotts visited Ireland.
‘William Scott’, opened at the Gallery Kasahara, Osaka, on 16 January (closed 7 February). The exhibition consisted of six oils, sixteen gouaches and two prints.
Ryunosuke Kasahara, a young art dealer, was an enthusiastic promoter of contemporary western art. The catalogue introduction, ‘Between Realism and Abstraction’, was written by Chuji Ikegami, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Letters at Kobe University. Kasahara had come across Scott’s work through a visit to Gimpel Fils, and had arranged an introduction to the artist through Kenneth Armitage, whose work Kasahara had recently shown.
The Scotts travelled to Tokyo for the opening of a second exhibition organised by the Gallery Kasahara on 17 May (closed 29 May). The exhibition, which was held in rented premises as Kasahara did not have a gallery in Tokyo, was a larger version of the show held in Osaka in January, and included 11 oils from 1950 to 1976 and 25 gouaches mostly painted in 1975 and 1976.
‘William Scott: New Gouaches and Collages’ opened at Gimpel Fils, London, on 25 May (closed 26 June). The exhibition included 25 gouaches painted between 1975 and 1976, and ‘Excursions 1–9’, a group of works described in the catalogue as a ‘series of nine experiments in mixed media’.
Scott was awarded an Honorary D.Lit. from Queen’s University, Belfast. On the same visit to Northern Ireland he presided over the graduation ceremony at Belfast School of Art. In his speech to the students Scott affirmed his long-held belief that the art school played a vital role in education. ‘There are three main branches of art,’ he told his audience, ‘educational, industrial and fine art. The purpose I feel of an art school is to provide these branches with ideas and inspiration. The art school in fact should be the community’s laboratory centre of visual experiment, the place where new ideas will be generated. In fact, the spirit that made the Bauhaus so successful is still more than ever necessary today.’
The Scotts spent a week in Gozo, Malta, where their son Robert had a house. The rest of the summer and autumn were spent mostly in the country, at their house at Coleford.
‘Green Predominating’, Scott’s lithograph drawn on a zinc plate, was published in an edition of 40 by Editions Alecto, London.
Following the sale of the Martha Jackson Gallery in December 1976, David Anderson moved the gallery to another location in New York City (521 West 57th Street).
Scott was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.
The exhibition ‘Real Life’, organised by Edward Lucie-Smith as a Peter Moores Liverpool Project, opened at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on 2 June (closed 6 September). Scott showed his series of 17 small paintings titled ‘An Orchard of Pears’. Lucie-Smith, who was a poet as well as a critic, published a poem in the catalogue, which is printed as a full page following the list of Scott’s paintings. Titled ‘Five Morsels in the Form of Pears’, it is dedicated to Scott and Erik Satie (a reference to the composer’s composition for piano duet ‘Trois morceaux en forme de poire’).
Scott received a doctorate in letters (Litt.D) from Trinity College, Dublin.
‘William Scott: Twelve Recent Paintings’ opened at the Dawson Gallery, Dublin, on 9 July (closed 23 July). The 12 works were still-life compositions painted between 1976 and 1977. Leo Smith, who had founded the Dawson Gallery, died the week before the exhibition opened. The following year John Taylor, who had worked in the gallery since 1968, continued to run the gallery before setting up the Taylor Galleries in Dublin.
In the second week of July the Scotts went to Brittany. During their stay they visited the Hôtel de la Poste in Pont-Aven, which they found little changed from their time there in 1938–9.
‘British Painting 1952–1977’ opened at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, on 24 September (closed 20 November). In this survey of British art Scott was represented by three paintings.
Scott made a short trip to New York to see David Anderson and his new gallery space. While there, he attended the opening of the Antoni Tapiès exhibition at David Anderson’s gallery on 31 March.
‘William Scott “Permutations”’ opened at Gimpel Fils on 23 May (closed 24 June). The series Permutations was made up of seven large canvases numbered 1 to 7, with the dominant colour of each painting included in the title, e.g. ‘Permutation 1 – Blue’. The series included an eighth canvas, which was finished towards the end of April, but which was not shown in the Gimpel Fils exhibition.
Scott completed two lithographs commissioned by Christie’s Contemporary Art, Grapes and Pears, each printed by Curwen Studio and published in an edition of 150.
‘William Scott Still Life Paintings 1946–1978’ opened at Fermanagh County Museum, Enniskillen, on 19 May (closed 14 July). The exhibition of 25 paintings toured to the Orchard Gallery, Londonderry, and the Arts Council Gallery, Belfast. T.P. Flanagan wrote a short introduction for the catalogue.
Following David Anderson’s decision to close his gallery, Scott was forced to make new business arrangements, and was subsequently represented in New York by Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer.
‘Poem for a Jug’, an exhibition of 26 oils on a single theme painted between 1979 and 1980, opened at Gimpel Fils, London, on 20 May (closed 21 June). The title was a play on Keats’s ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’.
On 29 May the Scotts left for Greece where they spent three weeks on the island of Corfu staying in a small house lent to them by the Munich gallery owner Helga Orny and her husband Ludwig.
‘William Scott War Paintings 1942–46’ opened at the Imperial War Museum, London, on 11 February (closed 1 March). The exhibition, organised by Angela Weight, was the first in which Scott consented to show a selection of the large number of watercolours and drawings he had made during the Second World War.
Scott underwent a successful operation for a cataract in his left eye.
Mary Scott suffered a severe stroke that left her paralysed down one side. She spent 12 weeks in hospital.
‘William Scott’ opened at Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer, 1040 Madison Avenue, New York, on 26 April (closed 28 May). The artist travelled to New York for the opening.
Mary Scott fell and broke a leg while learning to walk again. Shortly afterwards, she suffered a second stroke.
A letter dated 22 March from Peter Gimpel to Scott indicates the general slowing down of the artist’s output: ‘I quite understand that, of course, you cannot have a show if you have not painted recently. We will rely on you to let us know at least six months ahead when you are ready.’
Scott was elected a Royal Academician. His Diploma work, ‘Still Life with Pears’, a painting of c.1956, was accepted by the Royal Academy on 23 April 1985.
Scott’s early life was the subject of ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, a feature film directed by James Scott and produced by Christine Oestreicher for Flamingo Pictures with TSI Films for Channel 4. The 85-minute film was first shown at the National Film Theatre on 1 December as part of the 28th London Film Festival. Scott was in the audience.
The screenplay was by Shane Connaughton and the cinematography by Adam Barker-Mill.
Clifford Ellis, the former Principal of the Bath Academy of Art, died on 19 March.
Scott was awarded the Korn/Ferry Prize at the Royal Academy’s ‘Summer Exhibition’. Following tradition, prizes were presented on Varnishing Day, which this year was on 22 May. The new £5,000 prize awarded ‘for a work of exceptional merit’ was given by the executive search consultants Korn/Ferry for ‘Variations’. The judges were Edward Clark (Korn/Ferry), Dr John Golding, John Hoyland ARA, William Packer and Professor Eduardo Paolozzi CBE, RA.
For the second year running Scott was awarded the Korn/Ferry Prize at the Royal Academy’s ‘Summer Exhibition’. This time the prize was split between Scott for his painting ‘Figure’ and John Hoyland’s ‘Don’t Explain 14.2.83’. The judges were Edward Clark (Korn/Ferry), Geoffrey Clarke RA, Richard Cork, Allen Jones ARA and Leonard Manasseh.
An important retrospective opened at the Ulster Museum, Belfast, on 13 June (closed 3 August). The exhibition, organised by the Arts Councils of Ireland, travelled to the Guinness Hop Store, Dublin and the Scottish National Gallery of Art, Edinburgh. It was one of a series presented annually by the Arts Councils in Ireland to draw public attention to the achievements of distinguished Irish artists. The catalogue included essays by Ronald Alley, the recently retired Keeper of the Modern Collections at the Tate Gallery, and T.P. Flanagan, the painter and critic who was also a long-standing friend of the artist. The artist visited the exhibition when it was shown at the Guinness Hop Store.
By now Scott had virtually stopped painting. In early August he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms of which had become gradually apparent over the previous few years.
Scott was left out of ‘British Art in the 20th Century: The Modern Movement’, a major survey organised by Norman Rosenthal at the Royal Academy of Arts.
‘William Scott: Paintings 1953–1986’ opened at Gimpel Fils, London, on 19 May (closed 20 June). This was a small exhibition of nine oils ranging in date from 1953 to 1986.
Scott completed his last lithograph, ‘Still Life with Lemons’, with Stanley Jones of the Curwen Press. It was published by the Scott Estate. According to Stanley Jones, it was based on a tracing made from an original gouache. Some of the marks were made by Scott on the tracing sheet, but the lithographic process (on a zinc plate) was completed by Jones.
‘William Scott’ opened at the Berkeley Square Gallery, London, on 26 September (closed 15 October). The exhibition, organised by the sculptor David MacIlwaine and consisting of 31 works, was described on the catalogue cover as ‘A Major Retrospective’.
Scott died at his home in Coleford on 28 December. The death certificate, dated 2 January 1990, gave the causes of death as ‘Intra cerebral haemorrhage Ib: Cerebral altherssclerosis: II: Senile Dementia’.
A funeral service was held at Holy Trinity Church, Coleford, on 3 January. Scott, however, had asked to be buried in the grave that contained his father as well as his baby sister Violet in Breandrum Cemetery, Enniskillen. The burial took place in Northern Ireland on 15 January. The painter T.P. Flanagan gave the address at the Service of Thanksgiving held in the Chapel of Rest.
A memorial service for the artist was held in London at St James’s, Piccadilly, on 20 March. According to Mary Scott about 400 people attended.
On 28 April, Mary Scott died at home in Coleford and was buried with her husband in Breandrum Cemetery, Enniskillen.