William Scott was regarded as one of the leading British painters of his generation. He trained at Belfast School of Art before entering the Royal Academy Schools as a sculptor. Finding the sculpture schools to be out of touch, he decided to transfer to painting, and his early work included figurative and landscape subjects. However, he soon realised that landscape was not his real direction:

‘I don’t respond to sea and air and the things of nature, and when I approached landscape it was the man-made things that attracted me. In any case I had already discovered that my real love was still life.’

Scott recognised the human significance of simple objects, and was particularly fascinated by still life scenes taken from kitchens. His paintings often feature pots and pans, baskets and bottles, eggs, and loaves of bread laid out on table tops. Attracted to the sculptural shapes of kitchen utensils, his paintings became more abstract over time, reducing the objects to their characteristic shapes.

In this picture, the pots and pands have been flattened out and the tabletop is turned upright and now resembles a rough cast stone wall. However, the rounded rectangular shapes are still recognisable as containers due to their painted outlines which describe the rims and handles of the saucepans.


  • Title: Saucepans on a Table
  • Creator: William Scott
  • Date: 1956
  • Medium: Gouache
  • Copyright: © Estate of William Scott
  • Artist's Dates: 1913-1989

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