This charming still-life has an important provenance, having come from La Colombe d’Or. It is now a top-quality hotel and restaurant destination in Provence, where guests and visitors can enjoy its significant collection of twentieth-century art as they dine and relax. Yet in the late 1920s when Hunter frequented it, La Colombe d’Or was a humble inn, where an artist could rent a room and studio with board, for a reasonable price and including the relative luxury of regular hot water. These pleasant surroundings, home comforts and regular meals were exactly what the notoriously erratic Hunter needed to feel steady and allow himself to focus on the great inspiration he was finding in the South of France, a place of glorious vistas and sun-soaked days.
The proprietor of this institution was Paul Roux and with a particular interest in art and as an amateur painter himself, he often accepted paintings in lieu of payment from his artistic guests and residents. Many of these then struggling artists went on to be significant players in the story of twentieth century art – Picasso, Braque, Miro, Matisse and Alexander Calder, creating the basis of the art collection as it remains now. We can only imagine that Hunter handed this painting over on a similar basis, as we know the management of money was not his strong suit when faced with great artistic inspiration.
Hunter returned to still-life compositions throughout his career, often re-using objects in different iterations to generate the effect he was looking for. Here, the simple outline and two-tone colour of the jug fill the composition but this simplicity is enlivened with Hunter’s expressive brushwork both in and around the object while the composition is brightened with the inclusion of various colour-rich fruit in the foreground. Hunter achieves a sense of balance across the composition as the vertical lines of the table edge and the white canvas in the background intersect behind the jug, drawing our attention inwards. As we might expect from a Scottish Colourist, Hunter plays with colour here, juxtaposing the deep green jug with the zingy orange fruit and incorporating dashes of purple, yellow and blue-grey into the backing wall, and to gently suggest the patterned tablecloth. Hunter is at his most subtle here and with this sophistication, the more you look the more there is to see.
We are delighted to present this wonderful example of a still life by Hunter in our 20th January auction Modern Scotland: A Private Collection of Scottish Art.
We are delighted to offer several auctions a year across the UK featuring to Modern British painting, sculpture, prints and drawings. These Modern British art auctions feature works from the likes of Walter Sickert and the Camden Town Group to Terry Frost and the St Ives School, we also handle selected works by all of 20th century Europe’s major figures and movements. This area continues to lead the UK art market and is going from strength to strength.