Portrait head and shoulders of a child looking over his right shoulder.

Other title(s)
Object type
Medium and materials
oil on canvas on board
Place Made
Rotorua, New Zealand

Verso framer’s label

Current Collection

Private Collection

Current Location

New Zealand

General notes

Jacob, the subject, is Scales's great great nephew. His father, Piers Westacott, was the original owner of the work. Dated according to supplied approximate age of the subject.

Alternative title, Jacob, taken from the exhibition Flora Scales at The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, New Zealand, 2018.

The canvas size relates it to Untitled [Cat no. 1] [BC082] and Untitled [Cat no. 2] [BC083] used in portrait rather than landscape format.

Flora Scales, in conversation with M. de Lange, 1983, “The painting is unfinished...I moved to the Masonic in the middle of it [October 1978] and never achieved what I hoped for in it. I was trying to analyse the structure of his head – to show the unique character of this head, rather than his unique character.” While talking, Scales was drawing to demonstrate her explanations, see Untitled [Child’s Head] [BC141] [see Related images 1].

Toss Woollaston, in conversation with B. de Lange, 1983, “Her work is very sensitive. She does not know at the outset what is going to happen in a painting but works it out on the canvas or the paper. See her delicate but strong brushwork – the absence of heavy-handedness despite the strength.”

Excerpt from Toss Woollaston's essay for B. de Lange, 1992, “Jacob...a round-headed little boy looking at us over his shoulder. His clothing is blue, his eyes dark, mouth red, and face luminous broken yellow with white, blue, red and brown breaking it in touches and flecks. The background and his hair are brown, varied with strokes of blue and red – so subdued that we “scarcely see, we feel” that they are there. Nothing is hard-edged, nothing insists on the limitations of its own shape – and the effect is unlimited.

(My quotation, from Shelley’s Ode to a Skylark [To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1820], was prompted by the kind of exultance this painting produces in me, similar to Shelley’s in that poem.)”


Essay by Toss Woollaston, 1992, reproduced with the kind permission of the Toss Woollaston Trust, May 2021

Related images