The mysterious, evocative works of John Maxwell are among the most original and individual to be found in 20th Century Scottish Art. John Maxwell studied under Leger and Ozenfant. Although he absorbed the teaching of Cubism, it was to Symbolism that he turned for inspiration, in particular to the French artist, Odilon Redon, and the lyrical, dream like pictures of the Russian born artist Marc Chagall.
Maxwell's approach to his work was intuitive and highly inventive. With his great love of music and poetry, he tended to look inwards to the world of dreams and imagination. A perfectionist by nature, he was extremely self critical and destroyed so many of his own pictures that only about 200 works in total, oils, watercolours and drawings, now remain.
Maxwell's oil paintings are characterized by thickly applied pigment which he often put on with a palette knife to build up a heavy impasto, working slowly and often scraping out and reworking certain areas, yet always marrying the sensuous charm of the medium to the very essence of his own vision. Moreover, his use of rich colour draws on the Scottish Colourist tradition. All these qualities are wonderfully demonstrated in Circus Pony, which, as with most of his oeuvre, transports the viewer to a far continent at once familiar and strange, enchanting and poignant.
Oil on panel
Signed and dated 1937; inscribed with title and dated 1937 verso
40 x 36 ins
Collection of Murray Middleton Tod
Society of Scottish Artists, Edinburgh, 1937, no.142
Bradford Corporation Art Gallery, Bradford, 1943
Arts Council of Great Britain, Paintings, Water-colours by WG Gillies and
John Maxwell, Edinburgh, 1954 no.71
University of Nottingham, Six Scottish Artists, 1959, no.36
Society of Scottish Artists, Edinburgh, 1962, no.313 (posthumous)
National Galleries of Scotland and the Arts Council of Great Britain, John Maxwell 1905-1962 â€“ An exhibition and catalogue of his work, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art,
Edinburgh, 1963, no.42
National Galleries of Scotland John Maxwell 1905-1962 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 1998/1999, no. 29
Repr. The Studio, September 1943, vol. 126, no.606, illustrated page 76
Douglas Hall catalogue, John Maxwell 1905-1962 An exhibition and catalogue of his work, page 8
Philip Long catalogue John Maxwell 1905-1962, pages 25 & 78 with full illustration
in colour page 49, plate 12
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