Obituary: Elizabeth Scott-Moore
Monday 23 August 1993
BEYOND that constant struggle with both vision and materials every artist knows, Elizabeth Scott-Moore was most indebted to three individuals: the early encouragement of her husband, John Scott-Moore, the critical eye of her brother Ronald Brier and her friendship with the then well- known artist Alfred Heyward.
On their painting expeditions in the Thames Valley, Heyward and her brother guided Elizabeth to discover the luminosity, fullness of colour and expansive touch of her mature style. She thus abandoned the world of the 'commercial' illustration for which she had trained in the Twenties at Goldsmiths' College in south London.
Elizabeth Brier was born at Dartford in Kent in 1902. Her mother, born Victoria Carruthers (1871-1967), had been trained at Glasgow School of Art and took to illustrating children's books. Indeed when Elizabeth's father Henry Brier (1858-1938), an engineer and inventor, ever fell on hard times Victoria had to resort to the paint-brush to illustrate another book and so revive the financial situation. Brier, as a young man before his marriage, had been chief engineer to the Tram Company at Rouen. Here he had met the artists of the Impressionist circle, whilst he enjoyed sailing on the Seine.
The world of children's book illustration that Elizabeth entered, following her mother and working for the publishers Blackies, Nelsons and the Oxford University Press, was abandoned in 1947 on the death of her husband. She had met John Scott-Moore whilst she was still a student travelling daily on the train from Dartford to Goldsmiths'. Although he was a married men 20 years her senior, they fell in love. They were unable to marry until 1937. When John died in 1947 two years after they had bought their cottage on Wentworth Golf Course, Elizabeth made the chance in her creative life from illustration to 'pure painting'.
To maintain herself and her property she used some aspects of her illustrative skill to produce portraits, winning a Gold Medal from the Paris Salon of 1962 for her portrait in oils of Alfred Heyward. Her typical exhibition pieces in watercolour were as richly painted as oils, of landscapes, which often reflected her continental travels. These always contained some feature of human activity. In her studio she would pose girls with a cat, young choirboys or other musicians set in a warm light. Picking huge bouquets of flowers from her garden she would paint how they glowed.
Showing at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition first in 1948, she was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1959. She left the institute in 1966, on a matter of principle over votes for women in its affairs, and was nominated for the Royal Watercolour Society by Cosmo Clark RA. She became a full Member in 1975 and, in 1986, the first woman Trustee of the society. On her death she joins Keith Henderson and Mary Parsons as one of the society's major benefactors this century.
The warmth of Elizabeth Scott-Moore's character made for her many friends and admirers. Though tiny in stature she possessed a fine singing voice, and sang with the Egham Choral Society. In both the New English Art Club and the Royal Watercolour Society her views were a professional asset, highly prized.
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