Arthur Tooth and Sons, London, 1956
Alan Bowness, William Scott: Paintings, London, 1964, p.138, illustrated
The early 1950’s had been marked by a period of almost total abstraction in Scott’s work when, showing alongside Adrian Heath, Kenneth Martin, Terry Frost and Roger Hilton in Heath’s London studio shows, figures and objects in his paintings become increasingly absorbed into the overall abstract structure of the compositions. Then c.1954-55, following a visit to New York in 1953 when he had made direct contact with Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionist artists, Scott began to think hard about redefining the direction his work should take. Observing of himself at the time that 'I cannot be called non-figurative when I am still interested in the modern magic of space, primitive sex forms, the sensual and erotic, disconcerting contours of the things of life', he started, in 1954, to paint the female nude again and a year or so later, turned back to still life once again - first some small canvases of saucepans with pears and, in 1956, the series of small paintings of the more or less interchangeable forms of bowls, mugs and bottles, of which Bowls and Mug is one. 'A means to making a picture', as he described such still-life subjects, there is nonetheless a new richness of colour and surface and subtle tension between the forms here which shows that that the lessons of his abstract period and his contact with contemporary American art had had a significant impact on the direction which his work was now to take.