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A Point in Time
© Estate of William Johnstone

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A Point in Time About 1929 / 1937

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Johnstone began this painting in 1929, when he was living in Selkirk after his return from America. It is his largest painting of this period and the artist later emphasised its importance by taking the title for his autobiography. He stated that this painting and two other works ‘grew out of my horror of the disease of war, of the anticipation of future tragedy - they were never intended for drawing rooms.’ The shapes in the painting are reminiscent of natural forms, highlighted with coloured light and including mysterious, cavernous spaces. Although abstract, it has been suggested that the shapes are influenced by the landscapes of the Scottish Borders. Johnstone reworked many of his paintings of the 1920s and this painting was probably altered prior to its first exhibition in 1938.

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

Abstract art


  • Acc. No. GMA 1254
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 137.20 x 243.80 cm (framed: 143.50 x 250.00 x 3.00 cm)
  • Credit Presented by Mrs Hope Montagu Douglas Scott 1971