William Coldstream 1908-1987


With Anthony d'Offay, London, 1981
Private Collection, UK


1984, London, Anthony d'Offay, William Coldstream, 20 June - 20 July 1984, cat. no. 3 (illus.)


Peter T.J. Rumley, William Coldstream, Sansom & Company, 2018, p. 130, cat. no. 169 (col. illus.)
In August of 1977, Coldstream took a holiday to Falmouth in Cornwall. He took a property on Florence Place for two weeks, which he rented from Tim Holliday – an art historian working at Falmouth School of Art. Coldstream’s diaries, now in the Tate Gallery Archive, describe the artist’s working pattern in minute detail. Garden in Falmouth was started during a morning session on Tuesday 2 August. It lasted one and a half hours, and was followed by several other sessions later in the week. In each case, Coldstream painted in the morning light to ensure consistency in his subject. The picture was made from the veranda of the property, looking southwards from the house down the length of the garden.

The surface of Garden in Falmouth is punctuated by those meta-critical markings which Coldstream used to fix in place the spatial relationships of his subject. In this pleasant landscape work, the sunlit garden is punctuated by slight verticals and diagonals, made in black or red-ochre to stand apart from the scene itself. They are especially prominent in the roof of the house and the canopy of the tree at the end of the garden. Though their purpose was to aid in the accurate spatial construction of his picture, these markings came to invest Coldstream’s work with a style of exacting execution and technical rigour.

By the 1970s, Coldstream had achieved a considerable amount as both an artist and an arts administrator – not least as Chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Art Education, a post he filled between 1958 and 1971. His paintings of the late 1970s, not least Garden in Falmouth, indicate a measured control and an advanced level of pictorial calculation. Coldstream was a fervent empiricist, insisting on the need for a picture to reconstruct its subject as closely as possible. In this work, he realised this artistic intention in full.