Art: Wild Goose Chaser

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On their way back from the South Pole in March 1912, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his party perished of starvation and cold. To his wife, Kathleen, Explorer Scott wrote: "I must write a little letter for the boy if time can be found, to be read when he grows up. The inherited vice from my side of the family is indolence—above all he must guard, and you must guard him, against that. I had to force myself into being strenuous. . . ."

Last week at Ackermann's gallery in London, Peter Markham Scott's seventh exhibition of paintings testified to the industry of one of England's least indolent young men. Broad-shouldered, shock-headed Artist Scott inherited not only his father's features but his liking for open air. At intellectual Trinity College, Cambridge, he lived unsociably with a pet snake and an owl, spent his vacations duck-hunting and sailing. For his painting he chose an open-air subject—wild fowl.

As a result of this specializing, Peter Scott at 29 probably knows more about wild ducks and geese—and paints them better in oils—than any living artist. For the last five years his home has been an old lighthouse on The Wash, a place of inlets and tidal marshes on the Lincolnshire coast; where he makes pets of the wild geese. Ornithologist as well as artist, Scott last year spent four months around the Caspian Sea in a vain search for a rare red-breasted goose.

Studio painters of waterfowl make mere decorations. Artist Scott gets in, besides the vivid and light-shot patterns, the weight and tensile trimness of the birds and the precise aerodynamics of their flight. Eventually he hopes to sober up a tendency to melodramatic color. He turns out one painting a week as a fair average, usually sells out his annual show. His mother, now Lady Kennet, an accomplished professional sculptress whose new bust of Bernard Shaw was also shown at Ackermann's, thinks her son is "preposterously prosperous."