From the early 20th century to the mid-1950s, Ms. Ballantine not only painted flowers, but portraits, children, butterflies, vegetables, and even fish. Her enthusiastic style was greatly influenced by the Scottish Colorist movement, which combined French Impressionistic techniques with the painting traditions of Scotland. Or, as the authors of “The Scottish Colorists: 1900-1930,” Philip Long and Elizabeth Cumming, put it: (artists in the movement) “…absorbed and re-worked the strong and vibrant colors of contemporary French painting into a distinctive Scottish idiom during the 1920s and 1930s.” Works by these artists are always sought-after, and fine examples can be found in museums and galleries throughout Scotland, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Mary married Robert Wilkie, another Scottish landscape painter and art teacher. She exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts as well as the Royal Scottish Academy. According to my trusty 2003 copy of “Davenport’s,” her paintings have sold to well over $6,000 at auction.
In this exuberant painting, Ms. Ballantine used intense shades of dark, rich colors, combining them with whites to separate the color schemes. She chose her background to be blue drapes against a yellow panel with a red striped border to continue and emphasis her choice of colors. The mauve table cloth harmonizes well with her deeper plums, blues and dark reds that have quite a bit of blue in them.
Her painting, done in these lively colors, suggest why the Scottish Colorist movement drew so many followers during her lifetime. If anything, it signifies a turn toward the modern style of French paintings and a break away from the traditional colors that had been used prior to this movement for floral paintings.
Her brush strokes are mainly short, choppy and deliberate. She built up the paint in many of the flower petals in a palette-type of work. Her vase is sitting on a blue ceramic dish painted with large daisy-like flowers on it. She even introduced a peach color on one end of the canvas as if to give a nod to the various shades that yellow and red with an orange tone to it can produce. In essence, this is a wonderful expression of the type of work these artists produced during this time period.
It is signed and dated 1954 in the lower left-hand corner.
It is housed in its original wide, wood painted frame. The frame has been gilded on a strip nearest the border, while the larger curved part was painted white, echoing the colors of some of the blooms.
The painting is in excellent original condition, as is the frame.
It measures 30 inches wide by 35 inches high, including the frame.