Provenance: Private Collection, a gift from the artist Waddington Galleries, London Private Collection
Exhibitions: British Pop, Museo de Bellas Artes deBilbao, Spain,2006The Flower of Life, James Hyman Gallery, 2007
Literature: Marco Livingstone, British Pop, Bilbao, 2006 (pp.115-117 and p.409 discussed and full page colour illustration) Marco Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, Lund Humphries, 2005
One of Caulfield's major Pop Art paintings from the early 1960s. Three Roses may be compared to two works from the same formative period in the collection of the Tate Gallery: Vases of Flowers (1962) and Still Life with Dagger (1963). Like them the painting makes direct reference to compositional devices found in the carefully constructed still-life painters of the Cubist Juan Gris. As Caulfield said 'What I like about Juan Gris's work is not that he's dealing with different view points, it's the way he does it. It's very strong, formally, and decorative'. Caulfield also explained: 'I was interested in Léger and I very much liked Stuart Davis. I had seen and enjoyed the Mondrian show at the Whitechapel (in 1955), but I thought of Mondrian as being perhaps too mathematical in his approach, although I'm not sure.[...] The geometric devices were really a way of pointing up the figurative elements. I didn't feel capable at that time of putting the object on a table, and so forth, it seemed too much what I was trying to get away from. I was using these formal devices to present a figurative element.' (Patrick Caulfield, interview with Marco Livingstone, December 1980). The art critic Marco Livingstone has described such paintings as combining 'decorative opulence with technical austerity' and writes that
Three Roses was painted as a wedding present for some friends, and it partakes deliberately of the festive tone and even - rather dangerously for a modernist artist - of the sentimentality of a congratulatory greetings card. Following the example of the Black and White Flower Piece of the same year, the stylised but intricately rendered outlines of the flowers were probably painted from a squared-up drawing made from life. As in other Caulfield paintings of this period, the language is not so much that of contemporary advertising, as of an earlier manifestation of it: sign-painting. It is not simply that he has availed himself of the materials (gloss paint on board) and hard linear technique of the sign-painter; he is using also the latter's method of presentation. A familiar object is treated in a formalised manner as if it were a symbol, its implied importance emphasised through its isolation, but no specific symbolic content is advanced
The solid black outline that became such an essential element of Caulfield's signature style in the 1960s had a practical function in both his prints and his paintings, as it enabled him to ensure the crisp separation of distinct zones of colour, and at the same time to convey an image with a forceful graphic shorthand. The effect is sometimes like that of a stained-glass window, with vividly coloured shapes encased within the flat drawing that holds the entire scene tautly against the surface. The physicality of the outline and strong unmodulated colour meld the depiction of objects into simplified but precise and characterful form by which we can hold it in our minds.' (Marco Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, Lund Humphries, 2005).