Orchard with Plum Tree


Landscape with high viewpoint. Upper margin three brown vertical cylindrical shapes. Centre bright magenta pink shapes. Yellow and pink marks over blue, green and yellow field of colour.

c. 1970
Object type
Medium and materials
oil on canvas
Place Made
Bry-sur-Marne, France

LL green brush point Scales


Sold by auction at Webb’s, Auckland, New Zealand, 1990, Lot 47a

Private sale, Auckland, New Zealand, May 2020

Current Collection

Private Collection

Current Location

Auckland, New Zealand

General notes

Title and date supplied by the artist for Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand, exhibition, Helen F V Scales, 1975-1976. Listed as artwork no. 40 in this exhibition.

Possibly a close-up view of the area at lower right in Suburb Outside Paris [BC076].

A colour chromolithograph of this work was prepared to be used in A Modern New Zealand Painting series, to be published by Alister Taylor Publishing, 1977. The series was never published but the reproduction was used for a 1977 calendar of the same name for the month of September, published by Alister Taylor Publishing. The chromolithographs for the book were sold at Whitcoulls, March 1987. This reproduction is part of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand collection, reference no. B-123-036 (described as a colour photolithograph, 306 x 439mm, on sheet 382 x 479mm).

Used as illustration

Modern New Zealand Painting Calendar 1977, Alister Taylor Publishing, Martinborough, New Zealand, 1977, September (enlarged colour print)


Foreword by Colin McCahon, Helen F V Scales exhibition catalogue, Auckland City Art Gallery, New Zealand, November 1975

“We hope this exhibition will tell people of a lifetime of painting, from her sometimes didactic early work to the poetry of her plum trees [BC071-BC075, BC077] and the portraits [BC065, BC066, BC120].

The beauty of her vision comes from her thinking about painting and from the grace and care she gives to her work. Without this, how could the plum trees have grown and the portraits become so real?”

‘Flora Scales Work on Show’ by T. J. McNamara, New Zealand Herald, 9 January 1976

“Despite their small scale the works look best seen from a considerable distance. Most appealing are some anemones painted in 1968 [BC051], and a charming Orchard with Plum Tree [BC071-BC075, BC077] painted quite recently.”

'Art award a lottery for losers' by James Ross, The Week, 16 July 1976, pg 17

“In the 1969-70 series, Orchard with Plum Tree [BC071-BC075, BC077], there is an eastern almost zen-like approach to nature.”

‘A Personal Reminiscence’ by Gretchen Albrecht, Art New Zealand, issue 37, 1985, pg 52

“Also displayed along with the self-portraits was a group of Orchard with Plum Tree [BC071-BC075, BC077] paintings, exquisitely beautiful in their blushes and strokes of paint; edges dissolving and reassembling in planes of colour, and revealing an intelligent understanding of post-cubist ideas derived from Cézanne’s principles of organising pictorial space. My response to the poetic vision of these paintings was immediate and intense, and I left the Gallery driven by an urgent desire to meet and speak to the woman who had painted them.”

'A Friend of Flora' by Gretchen Albrecht, Flora Scales, The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, New Zealand, 2018, pp 39-43

“My response to these self portraits [Portrait 2 [BC065], Portrait 3 [BC066], Portrait 1 [BC120]] and a poetic group of landscapes all titled ‘ Orchard and Plum Tree’ [BC071-BC075, BC077], with their strokes of paint dissolving and reassembling edges and planes of colour, was immediate and intense. I left the gallery driven by an urgent desire to meet and speak to the woman who had painted them...For me she was living proof that painting could stand at the core of a woman’s life and sustain her through anything. She was humble and unambitious for herself but always hungry for painting knowledge, which ended in her 98th year. I am richer for having known and loved her.”


Photos by Sam Hartnett