Alison McKenzie is probably better known for her fine prints - and this is a rarer, and interesting gouache painting by her - dating to the later part of her artistic career.
She was always slightly over-shadowed by her half-sister, Winifred.
Their father was an acquaintance of the Charles Rennie Macintosh - and he had planned to go into partnership with the celebrated architect, but had to move to run the family business in Bombay - where Alison and Winifred were both born.
The family returned to Scotland in 1909.
In 1923, the girls attended Glasgow School of Art and studied there until 1930. Alison studied design and textiles, and her sister studied drawing and painting.
Both artists then moved to London where they both studied the art of wood-engraving at the Grosvenor School of Art. In 1936, Alison received a commission from LNER for one of its railway posters.
In 1940, they moved back to Scotland and gave classes in wood-engraving in Dundee and St Andrews.
From 1946 Alison started teaching at Dundee College of Art (a post she shared on a part-time basis with her sister).
They frequently exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, and in 1953 Alison became a member of the Royal Society of Watercolour Artists.
The art critic for The Scotsman, Edward Gage, wrote of their work:
..”very personal but recognisably post-Cubist emphasis on formalized structure without ever losing a sensitive response to mood or atmosphere”. …” their individual ways of simplifying their subjects are never empty of content; rather they intensify meaning and matter and thus intensify our view of things.”
He wrote of Alison’s achievements “..spare but sensuous, quiet but vibrant …. always fresh, various, impeccably resolved and immaculately designed, (her) work will remain a special joy.”
There is a fascinating biography of the McKenzie sisters which gives a fascinating account of their lives. by Aylwin Clark, which was published in 1996.
This work definitely shows the influence of the Cubists on her work; she has chosen to depict a simple image - that of a pot plant with drooping leaves sitting on a distinctive footed stand. She has broken down the forms into abstracted, geometric shapes and painted the subject with a limited monochromatic palette of warm greys and dusky greens.
The work is painted with gouache and is on a special watercolour board. The artist has mounted the work - the mount is actually printed by Alison with grey gouache paint to go with the central painted image.
Stylistically, I am dating this picture to around the 1960s. It is being sold unframed but mounted and ready to be framed.
It is in good condition with no issues.
The image measures 39 x 33 cm.
A more unusual work - by a sought-after Scottish Woman Artist.
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