Still life was a recurring subject throughout Duncan Grant’s career. Elaborate ceramic jugs and glassware vessels featured regularly in his work. Still Life with Teapot depicts the simple arrangement of...
Still life was a recurring subject throughout Duncan Grant’s career. Elaborate ceramic jugs and glassware vessels featured regularly in his work. Still Life with Teapot depicts the simple arrangement of a decorative teapot, a wine glass on a plate, and a pink teacup. These objects are laid out on a crisp white tablecloth, and the composition is set against a turquoise sea. Though such arrangements were often set in a domestic space – a mantelpiece or a sideboard perhaps – they usually included carefully chosen items that were composed for the specific purpose of a painting.
In contrast to the easily legible still-life composition on the table, the background – a landscape viewed through an open window, perhaps – appears to include a turquoise sea and a partially open pair of curtains. Materially, the work combines the use of watercolour and, less conventionally, ballpoint pen – a drawing utensil which Grant adopted in the 1940s. The underlying draughtsmanship is characteristically fluid and broken, and the watercolour elements provide a complement and bring the picture to completion. Several areas of the picture are unmarked and the brilliance of the white paper is left to shine through, contributing to the work’s bright atmosphere.
This work was first owned by the economist and collector Richard Stone, who presumably acquired it directly from the artist. He was a personal friend of Grant and bought many works from him over the years. He studied at Cambridge University in the 1930s and there became acquainted with John Maynard Keynes, who was a central node in the Bloomsbury Group network and made Stone’s initial introduction to Grant.
Richard Stone, London Mayor Gallery, London, 1974, acquired from the above Fairweather Hardin Gallery, Chicago, 1979, acquired from the above Virginia Tomasek, Chapel Hill, North Carolina Leland Little Auctions, Hillsborough, North Carolina, 14 June 2014, lot 546 Private Collection, US
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