BC021

Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez, Southern France

Landscape. Centre church tower, dividing expanse of cobalt blue sea and notching into far shoreline, rises above roofs of old town architecture. Lower margin, path curves to right edged on left by five agave plants. Right, tree on mound branching with foliage to left at top margin. Mid left set in from margin, lighthouse with black dome. Expressively painted sky with clouds.

Other title(s)
Town by the Water (Saint-Tropez), Town by the Water
Date
1939
Object type
painting
Medium and materials
oil on canvas on board
Dimensions
398x330mm
Place Made
St Tropez, France
Inscriptions

LL overpainted signature

LR green brush point F Scales 1939

Verso framer's label

Details
Credit Line

Purchased by Tim and Sherrah Francis from Peter McLeavey Gallery, Wellington, 1976, when it toured there from the Auckland City Art Gallery exhibition, Helen F V Scales, 1975-1976

Sold by auction at Art and Object, Auckland, New Zealand Tim and Sherrah Francis Collection, 07.09.2016, Lot 34

Purchased by The Fletcher Trust Collection, Wellington, New Zealand, 2016

Copyright Licence
Courtesy The Fletcher Trust Collection, Wellington, New Zealand, https://fletchercollection.org.nz/artworks/town-by-the-water-saint-tropez/
Current Collection

The Fletcher Trust Collection

Current Location

Wellington, New Zealand

General notes

First title and date supplied by the artist for Auckland City Art Gallery exhibition, Helen F V Scales, 1975-1976. Listed as artwork no. 1 in this exhibition.

Second title from The Fletcher Trust Collection documentation.

Third title supplied by Art and Object, Auckland, New Zealand, Tim and Sherrah Francis Collection, 07.09.2016, Lot 34.

This is the old town of St Tropez. The church is L’Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption.

There are three paintings in the group based on the basilica and lighthouse in St Tropez, from the late 1930s [Mediterranean Village [BC019], Untitled [Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez] [BC020], Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez, Southern France [BC021]]. It seems that Scales did not return to St Tropez after 1939 and these are the last of her sunny, colourful cubist compositions.

In this painting Scales has chosen to work from a high viewpoint which with an overall intensity of colour brings distance nearer to the picture plane. Planes of colour nudge and nestle together across the lower half of the canvas to portray the ancient town in contrast with the smooth expanse of the sea and the flowing hills beyond. This procedure shows her intelligent understanding of Hans Hofmann's spatial concepts (see Untitled [loose leaf pages] [BC112]).

Scales painted a wide curved road in three of her earlier works, Untitled [Landscape with curved road and trees] [BC121], Untitled [Nelson Farm Landscape] [BC127] and The Valley Road [BC139], in keeping with the conventions of landscape painting in New Zealand at that time.

In the works Untitled [Mediterranean Scene] 1 [BC016], Mediterranean Village [BC019] and Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez, Southern France [BC021], she has implemented Hofmann’s theories and adjusted the role of the curved path. Reduced in scale and curved towards the edge of her canvas it plays its part in the formal arrangement of colour, geometric planes and diverging diagonals to suggest the space and vitality of the scene without recourse to traditional rules of perspective.

The curved path is seen in later works such as St Michael [BC041] [c. 1958-1962] where, with the subtlety and sensitivity of her brush strokes and harmony of colour, Scales distils an expansive landscape to her small canvas, enhancing the grandeur of the scene.

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