A pioneer of British surrealism, Crosbie is represented in all major museums and galleries in Scotland, as well as the Royal Collection and British Museum. The works on offer demonstrate his distinctive and uncompromising style, and affirm his status as an important figure in twentieth-century painting.
William Crosbie was born in 1915 in Hankow, China to Scottish parents. The family returned to Glasgow in 1926, and in 1932 the young Crosbie was accepted to the Glasgow School of Art. A travelling scholarship enabled him to study in Paris under Aristide Maillol and Fernand Léger, and he later took a job with the Archaeological Institute on an expedition to Egypt, where he copied friezes in the newly-excavated Temple of the Bulls and Temple of Sakhara.
Upon his return to Glasgow in 1939, he engaged with ‘a little local renaissance’ with figures including the Scottish Colourist John Duncan Fergusson, the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and the Kelvingrove director Thomas John Honeyman. During the 1940s Crosbie produced several fine portraits of important Scottish cultural figures.
Symbolism was an artistic movement of particular importance to Crosbie, and its influence is particularly apparent in Marriage. This luscious oil on board dates to 1967, and appears to be in dialogue with the Haitian paintings of Paul Gauguin.
Crosbie’s nudes are always distinctive, and the enigmatic En Gris is an especially fine example. The figure is refracted through graphic superimposed shapes, resulting in a sophisticated abstract composition.
Terribus Omnia further evidences Crosbie’s talent for abstraction. His eye for bold, graphic form was honed following the Second World War when Crosbie worked as a mural painter, predominantly for the architects Jack Coia and Basil Spence, as well as a commission for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
Crosbie stated that he used his paintings as a visual diary. This watercolour and ink captures a view over Balmaha, and attests to Crosbie’s talent as a draftsman and ability to evoke the atmosphere of his surroundings.
Each lot will close in sequential order on Thursday 5th May, starting at Lot 1 from 10am. If a new highest bid is placed during the last 30 seconds before a lot closes, the end time for that lot will extend by a further 60 seconds.