Lot 82: [§] JOHN MAXWELL R.S.A. (SCOTTISH 1905-1962) FIGURES WITH AN APPLE 50cm x 63cm (19.5in x 25in)
December 8, 2016
Edinburgh, United KingdomLive Auction
[§] JOHN MAXWELL R.S.A. (SCOTTISH 1905-1962)
FIGURES WITH AN APPLE
Signed and dated 1937, pen and ink and watercolour
50cm x 63cm (19.5in x 25in)
largely good condition and colour
Under the Conditions of Sale applicable to the sale of the lot, buyers must satisfy themselves as to each and every aspect of the quality of the lot, including (without limitation) its authorship, attribution, condition, provenance, authenticity, age, suitability and origin. Lots are sold on an ''as is'' basis but the actual condition of the lot may not be as good as indicated by its outward appearance. In particular parts may have been replaced or renewed and lots may not be authentic or of satisfactory quality.
Any statement in relation to the lot is merely an expression of opinion of the seller or Lyon & Turnbull and should not be relied upon as an inducement to bid on the lot. Lots are available for inspection prior to the sale and you are strongly advised to examine any lot in which you are interested prior to the sale. Our condition report has not been prepared by a professional conservator, restorer or engineer.
Exhibited:Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, John Maxwell Memorial Exhibition, 1963, no.51
''a poet in paint''
(From a personal inscription to Maxwell, from the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith)
John Maxwell, and his longstanding friendship with fellow Scottish artist William Gillies, have recently been the focus of an Edinburgh City Art Centre exhibition, exploring both artists'' work and the similarities and distinctive differences in their approaches. Both were fascinated with European modern art developments, but while comparisons can and have be drawn between Maxwell and artists like Anne Redpath and Gillies, the main difference is, while their works have a basis in the substance of what is in front of them, Maxwell focusses much more on the shape-shifting qualities of the internal world of dreams, fantasy and imagination. As you experience his dreamy works, Maxwell''s fascination with the French Symbolist art of Odile Redon and Marc Chagall becomes apparent.
Watercolour was an important medium for Maxwell, and he used the paint in many ways, often combining it with chalk, gouache or pen and ink. One particular and unusual method that he championed was to use wet paper adhered to glass as the base for a painting. This allowed him more control in the application of washes and areas of colour, maintaining a flat surface on which he could then apply ink. This creates either blurred lines when ink is applied to the still-wet paper, or more control to apply a linear composition over the washes, when applied once the paper is dry. This approach in particular creates works with a luminosity and freshness, and although allowing more control, still leaves a wide margin for the experimental and accidental.
In the work offered here for sale, Figures with an Apple, Maxwell''s distinctive mix of pen and ink and watercolour is used to create a dreamy, poetic image. The subject of a male and female figure holding an apple is relatively straightforward, but as in many of his works, it is Maxwell''s imagination and approach that imbues the work with a mystical and symbolic quality.