John Houston

Village under the Cliffs (1962)

About this artwork

'Village under the Cliffs' was painted in Houston's Edinburgh studio from sketches made near the village of Staithes. The artist visited Staithes, which is situated to the north of Whitby on the Yorkshire coast, in the winter of 1961. Although the style of the painting verges on abstraction, the subject can still be seen. Houston has used structured horizontal and vertical brushstrokes to describe the houses in the village. The white marks in the sky represent seagulls. The intense colours and vigorous brushstrokes are typical of Houston's style of the period.

  • title: Village under the Cliffs
  • accession number: GMA 3766
  • artist: John HoustonScottish (1930 - 2008)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Villages
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1962
  • measurements: 152.50 x 183.00 cm
  • credit line: Purchased 1994
  • copyright: © The Estate of Dame Ethel Walker. All Rights Reserved 2014/ Bridgeman Images
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

John Houston

John Houston

Born in Fife, Houston studied and subsequently taught at Edinburgh College of Art. He retired in 1989, after having been departmental head of the painting school and director of the post-graduate department. The style of his early paintings was expressive and semi-abstract, but in the late 1960s his paintings became more atmospheric, influenced by Turner and American Abstract Expressionism. One of Houston's favourite subjects was the sea as he was captivated by its restless energy. He was married to the Scottish artist Elizabeth Blackadder.