BC041

St Michael

Upper centre, architectural structure with perhaps a tower. Suggestion of buildings and trees. Lower right margin a pale shape curves around a diagonal shape edged with blue.

Other title(s)
Village Outside Paris
Date
c. 1958 1962
1958
Object type
painting
Medium and materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
253x355mm
unstretched canvas:345x408mm
Place Made
Montléry, France
Inscriptions

LL ochre brush point H Scales

LL blue brush point H Scales (over ochre signature)

Details
Provenance

Donated to Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, Dunedin, New Zealand by Patricia France, 1995

Copyright Licence
Courtesy Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, Dunedin, New Zealand, 95/28, Patricia France Bequest, Dunedin, 1995
Current Collection

Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library

Current Location

Dunedin, New Zealand

General notes

Donated to Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, Dunedin, New Zealand by original owner, Patricia France, 1995. First title and alternative date from Hocken Collections documentation. Recorded in the exhibition Flora Scales at The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, 2018 as St Michaels, 1958.

Purchased by France from the artist in her Brentwood Avenue flat, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand, 1976, just prior to the artist returning to Europe. Alternative title and first date, supplied by artist at time of purchase.

Correspondence, Patricia France to B. de Lange, 1977: “I went to see her as she was about to leave for England. She was in her Mt Eden [Auckland, New Zealand] flat and we had afternoon tea. I told her I had been unable to come to her exhibition so she opened her suitcase and this painting was on top. She was taking it away with her. I think I can guess why she had kept this one as it is the view from the house of the couple she cared so much for [Boris and Christiane Kalachnikoff]…I think they were Russian refugees…she very kindly sold it to me – there and then.”

The painting can be seen in Pat France: Painter, video, University of Otago, 1994, interviewer Brian Turner.

Location identified by Sophie Rigault, Le Maire de Saint-Michel-sur-Orge, France, 16.08.2019: “After reflection, I am able to direct your search to the tower of Montlhéry, situated in the commune of the same name. The tower is today the only remaining vestige of the Château de Montlhéry on which construction began in 990.” This is an image of the Castle keep or Donjon of the Château de Montlhéry. Montlhéry is 3.6km from Saint-Michel-sur-Orge.

Flora Scales in conversation with M. de Lange, 1983, commented: “I wish I had made the hill bigger and higher and compared the field with the old yellow stone of the tower.”

Christiane Devèze, Boris Kalachnikoff’s wife, in conversations with Marc Bonamie, Paris, France, 2016, “Flora loved to paint outdoors - nature, landscapes - in sunlight. She often drew and painted animals, especially our dogs and cats, and was very happy painting the plum trees in full bloom in our garden at Bry-Sur-Marne. Boris would often walk with her into the countryside to paint the farmland and houses in earlier days. We would sometimes go together to his parents' country house in Genevieve St Bois, to Provence where my parents lived, or to Bleymard in the Lozère District where my family has a holiday house. We all drew and painted happily, side by side, discussing our work all the time, but keeping our own different styles during these painting holidays.” – ‘Christiane Devezes: Conversations and Letters II’, Flora Scales, The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, New Zealand, 2018

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.

Later, in her 1930s Basilica series [Untitled [Mediterranean Scene] 1 [BC016], Mediterranean Village [BC019] and Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez, Southern France [BC021]], she 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.

References

Exhibition notes by Louise Sinclair, From the Thames to the Nile, Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, 19.07.1997 – 24.09.1997

“This exhibition includes works from selected first generation expatriate artists with particular emphasis on subjects which indicate the geographical breadth of their European and North African journeys.”

'Art Scene' by Richard Dingwall, Otago Daily Times, 22.07.1997, pg 10

Review of From the Thames to the Nile, Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, 19.07.1997 – 24.09.1997:

“Meanwhile at the The Hocken Gallery, a new exhibition of selections from the collection looks at work produced by New Zealand artists abroad ... Among the unfamiliar works are two wonderful paintings by Flora Scales. Scales is well-known in New Zealand art history because of her brief contact with Toss Woollaston and the notes she gave him to copy when she attended the Hans Hofmann School in Munich. This does her the injustice of ignoring her own remarkable work.

The earlier of the two [Greniar [Graniers], St Tropez, Southern France, BC024] shows how advanced her own work was as early as 1938. Even better is the work of her late maturity St Michael [BC041], which has recently come into the Hocken collection from the estate of the late Patricia France, a view of St Michel. Much of the artist's early work was lost in a fire and she spent many years living abroad. This has led to her work being less well known than it deserves.”

The Critic, August, 1997

Review of From the Thames to the Nile, Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Library, 19.07.1997 – 24.09.1997:

“The works in this exhibition are predominantly from the 1900s to the 1930s. The title indicates what 'abroad' meant to these artists: Europe and North Africa. The exhibition offers insights into the cultural attitudes of New Zealanders earlier this century. Many artists felt isolated and undervalued here in a time when national cultural identity was in its formative stages, pakeha New Zealand looked back to Europe...The works themselves show the influence of modernist movements – impressionism, expressionism, cubism – albeit somewhat later than when they were 'cutting edge' in Europe. They are mostly landscapes, sometimes peopled, offering something more studied than a tourist snap.”

‘The Cornish Connection at the Suter Art Gallery, Nelson’ by Michael Moore-Jones, https://mmoorejones.com/cornish-connection-suter-art-gallery-nelson/, 2017

“Interestingly, Flora Scales was perhaps the star of the show. A number of her late oils show the range of influences acting on her, and the kinds of skills and style she passed on to Toss Woollaston and, through Woollaston, McCahon."

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