"Scales attended Canterbury College School of Art and studied painting in London before returning to New Zealand in 1912. After World War I her family settled in Nelson where she worked as an orchardist, and one of the works in the Richardson Collection Lot 108 Nelson Farm Landscape [BC127] dates from these years. Like other early works, including Lot 107 Shipping Wellington Harbour [BC128] and Lot 109 Moored Yachts [BC010] it is painted in a harmonious range of low-keyed colours and demonstrates an impressionist interest in atmospheric effects."
[Nelson Farm Landscape]
Rural scene. Road curves from left lower edge into middle distance. Midground wooden bridge railings. Plants at either side of bridge, flax flowers or seed pods on plants at right. Buildings, hazy hills and trees in background.
LR dark brown brush point Flora Scales
Verso framer’s label City Art, 96 Disraeli St, Christchurch, Job No 5036
Verso Left label Flora Scales, Nelson Farm Landscape, oil on canvasboard [sic], 220 x 260, purchased 25/11/08, Cost $3,500.00
Sold by auction at Webb's, Auckland, New Zealand, Important New Zealand Works of Art, 27.03.1996, Lot 1
Sold by auction at Dunbar Sloane, Wellington, New Zealand, The Sir Ivor Richardson Art Collection, 22.03.2006, Lot 108
Purchased by Scales Corporation Limited, Christchurch, New Zealand, from Ferner Galleries, New Zealand, 25.11.2008
Pinholes evident lower left and right corners
Title, [Nelson Farm Landscape], may have originated in an auctioneer’s catalogue.
In three of Scales’s early 1920s landscape paintings, Untitled [Landscape with curved road and trees] [BC121], Untitled [Nelson Farm Landscape] [BC127] and The Valley Road [BC139], a wide curved road leads deep into the middle distance on a strong left to right diagonal implying by its curve an eventual return towards the centre of the composition to balance the two point perspective. Shadows and the hazy blue distance of the atmospheric perspective contribute to the naturalism of the scene in keeping with the conventions of landscape painting in New Zealand at that time.
Taking heed of Hofmann’s theories, in her late 1930s Basilica series, Untitled [Mediterranean Scene] 1 [BC016], Mediterranean Village [BC019] and Basilica and Lighthouse, St Tropez, Southern France [BC021], Scales has 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.
Catalogue essay by Jill Trevelyan, The Sir Ivor Richardson Art Collection, Dunbar Sloane, Wellington, New Zealand, 22.03.2006
Photos by John Collie