John Maclauchlan Milne

Café South of France

  • Oil on canvas
  • 20 x 24 ins


Provenance: James Tattersall; By descent

Stylistically this painting dates to the 1920s and most likely depicts the South of France rather than Paris. The brilliance of the light, the blue shutters and the type of trees all suggest that this is a scene on the Cd'Azur.
It is a delightful image of French café culture. A maid walks a dog holding a parasol above her, people relax in the shade of the café seeking respite from the hot Provençal sun, and a waiter appears carrying a tray. On the road behind the café square a brightly coloured vehicle parked and in the square a kiosk is pasted with advertisements.
Another version of the same scene titled 'From the Milliners' (Bonhams..) shows a number of small differences: a figure in the foreground carries a striped hat-box, the dog is not included and there are more people in the café. Milne painted a number of variations of his favourite views in the same way that Peploe would repeat his Still Life paintings of Tulips or Roses - making small variations or changing the angle from which the subject is painted.
As with the Concert, Jardin des Tuileries this painting is reminiscent of Fergusson's café paintings. The distinctive difference is that Milne's are rather sleepy, quiet, subdued cafés whereas Fergusson famously captured the hustle and bustle of Parisian cafés.
It is difficult keeping pace with Mr Maclauchlan Milne writes a Dundee paper, circa 1925. A year ago he was painting Scottish hairst fields with soft sunlight and mellow atmosphere. Then Paris seized him, and he gave us canvases splashed with vivid colour, radiating gaiety and the joy of life. Now he has drunk a beaker full of the warm South and has brought back from the azure shore pictures that palpitate with hot sunlight and dazzle with their audacious colour'