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Winifred Nicholson

(Oxford 1893-1981 Carlisle, Cumbria)


Sketch of a building, possibly Byam Shaw School of Art, with a colour experiment on the reverse, c.1910-1919  *SOLD*


oil on panel

33 x 24 cm.

with an Everard Read Gallery label, verso, as 'possibly a view of the Byam Shaw School of Art' and stock number ER8704


Provenance

Presumably from the artist's deceased estate;

with Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, c.1980s;

private collection, South Africa, until 2023.


This double-sided panel by Winififred Nicholson is an early work from her time at Byam Shaw School of Art in London, between c.1910 and 1919, providing a fascinating insight into her early style and process. The impressionistic colour experiment on the reverse of the panel, with its pastel hues and curving brushwork, is arguably more typical of the artist's signature 'look' for which she is famous today.


The sketch of windows in a Victorian red-brick building has traditionally been identified as Byam Shaw School itself, which is plausible. 


Nicholson came from an illustrious family, and her grandfather, the politician George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle, was an accomplished amateur artist and friend of William Morris and Edward Coley Burne-Jones. After her prolonged studies at Byam Shaw School of Art (interrupted by WWI), she married the abstract artist Ben Nicholson in 1920. They spent their time between a villa in Switzerland, on the north shore of Lake Lugano, and a farmhouse by Hadrian's Wall, close to her family seat at Naworth Castle. 


After the birth of their third child in 1931, Ben Nicholson famously left Winifred for the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The split was difficult and she moved to Paris with their three children, before their divorce was finalised in 1938. She typically painted with a fresh, pastelline colour palette very much influenced by the French Impressionists, though the shape and form of her chosen subjects were generally more abstracted and purposefully naive in perspective. 

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