♦ GEORGE LESLIE HUNTER (SCOTTISH 1879-1931)
A STILL LIFE OF ROSES AND FRUIT
Signed, oil on canvas
46cm x 41cm (18in x 16in)
Estimate £ 50,000-70,000
Provenance: The Wood Collection
G.L. Hunter was the most peripatetic of the four Colourists spending his all to brief life principally in Scotland, the USA and France. He was also unique in originating from the west of Scotland. Hunter was born in Rothesay, Bute in 1877, the son of a chemist. In 1892 the family emigrated to California where his father had invested in an orange farm, near Los Angeles. While the family returned to Scotland eight years later, however, Hunter, then aged 22, chose, with an elder brother, to stay on and settled in San Francisco.
If Fergusson and Peploe had been enthused by the intellectual café society of Paris, it was the equivalent environment of San Francisco that now inspired Hunter. Although he had had no formal training, such was the quality of his early work that in 1901 he showed at the San Francisco Arts Association and in 1902 in the first exhibition of the California Society of Artists. We know that he first visited Paris in 1904-5 and returned to San Francisco the following year only to find that a huge amount of his work had been destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake. Probably as a consequence he returned to Scotland to live with his mother in Glasgow.
Frustrated by having to make a living through illustration, in 1910, at the age of 33, he moved to London and it seems possible that he met Peploe and Fergusson for the first time in Paris in 1911 and it is either here, or in London that he also befriended EA Taylor and his wife Jessie Marion King.
He showed at Alexander Reid's gallery in Glasgow in 1913 and again in 1916 and his work from this early period exhibits a distinct Dutch influence, married to some of the Post-Impressionist lessons that he must have learnt from France. In 1915 he showed for the first time at the RSA. Following the outbreak of war and for the duration, he worked on his uncle's farm, near Larkhall.
By 1922 Hunter was painting in Paris, Venice and Florence and also travelling in Fife, painting and sketching extensively, ever in search of the perfect light. While in Paris he visited Epstein and Matisse and increasingly, his palette now became altogether brighter and more vibrant.
A short visit to the States in 1924 was followed by further work in Fife and at Loch Lomond and a solo show at Aitken Dott in Edinburgh and another at Reid's.
The following year, apparently frustrated with the shortcomings of Glasgow as an artistic milieu, he moved to the south of France and began to paint in St Tropez and Antibes. In 1928 he joined Fergusson and Peploe at Cassis but despite Reid organising shows of his work the sales failed to materialise. In response Hunter tried the US market and in 1929 showed in New York. Returning to France he threw himself into his work with new vigour. But this intensity also had its down side. He had always been prone to bouts of temper and mood swings and his mind now became increasingly unstable, inclining him to prolonged periods of isolation.
Alone in his studio one day, mistaking a bottle of turpentine for something more palatable, he caused himself dreadful harm and was rushed to hospital in Nice before returning to Glasgow. The effects of this accident persisted and his health grew steadily worse. Sadly, Hunter died just two years later in 1931 aged 54, learning just days before his death that a painting of his had been bought by the French government and hung in the Musée du Luxembourg.
A Still Life of Roses and Fruit, is typical of Hunter's work of the mid 1920s, using a backdrop of drapery and with the foreground objects set on a table, angled towards the viewer. By this date Hunter has moved away from the predominating Dutch influence of his early still-lifes, with their dark backgrounds and jewel-like fruit and there is a tendency to abandon perspective and group the objects as arrangements on a single plane. He has yet however, to embrace the full-blown Cloissonism of the very late still-lifes.
Sold for £93,700 (buyer's premium included)