About this artwork

This was painted in 1898 when Melville was working at Sandhills House near Witley Station in Surrey. The exact location of this scene has yet to be confirmed, one possibility being the former chalk pits at Betchworth or Coulsdon. The stunning composition reveals Melville to have been the most forward-looking and inventive of all the painters associated with the Glasgow School. By the 1890s he was highly regarded for the technical brilliance of his watercolours, some characterised by a truly exceptional modernity. Here he displays a similar capacity for avant-garde innovation in oils. Although executed on an exhibition-scale canvas, it was not shown publicly in his lifetime, perhaps because of this extreme experimentalism.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
    Arthur MelvilleScottish (1855 - 1904)
  • title:
    The Chalk Cutting
  • date created:
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    85.10 x 92.80 cm; Framed: 113.30 x 120.30 x 5.00 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and the Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland, 2013
  • accession number:
    NG 2870
  • gallery:
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Arthur Melville

Arthur Melville

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