© The Artist's Estate

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Composition 1947
  • Scottish Art
This is one of a series of still-life paintings made by Cowie in the 1940s in which he imitates effects found in collage. Painted in glowing colours, the work is built up of layers which recall the photographic technique of double exposure and the multiple viewpoints of Cubism. It is thought to have been made by combining sheets of glass with postcards and reproductions of paintings sandwiched in between, with three-dimensional objects. Cowie was interested in the way a reflective surface could create an illusion of reality. He has included references to several famous classical paintings, most notably the generalised but recognisable nude of Ingres’ ‘Odalisque’. Small plaster casts appear in a number of the artist’s still lifes, recalling the Surrealist paintings of Giorgio de Chirico.

Glossary Open


A general term for art and architecture based on ancient Greek and Roman culture.


An image constructed from found materials, such as photographs, paper or fabric, glued to a surface, sometimes with additional painted or drawn elements. It is an art form particularly associated with Dada and Surrealism.


A style of painting originated by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the first two decades of the 20th century. Instead of painting a figure or object from a fixed position they represented it from multiple viewpoints.

Still life

A painting, drawing or photograph depicting inanimate objects.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Classicism, Collage, Cubism , Still life, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 1167
  • Medium Oil on wood
  • Size 46.30 x 45.50 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Sir William Oliphant Hutchison 1970