Sir William Nicholson

The Lustre Bowl with Green Peas (1911)

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About this artwork

Nicholson was exceptionally good at rendering the specific qualities of materials. Lead, pewter, tin and glazed ceramic vessels feature prominently in his many still-lifes and are given their own particular lustre. The skilful depiction of light on the bowl in this painting can be compared to the work of the Spanish artist Velázquez, whom Nicholson greatly admired. Nicholson reduced the still life motif to its basic ingredients. This tendency had a strong influence on his son Ben Nicholson, the abstract artist.

Sir William Nicholson

Sir William Nicholson

William Nicholson was the son of a wealthy Nottinghamshire industrialist. He trained in London at Herkomer's School alongside the Scottish students, Mabel and James Pryde, in 1888-89. After a year in Paris at the Académie Julian, he and James Pryde, as the 'Beggarstaff Brothers', collaborated on well-known series of posters. Although influential, this work was not commercially successful. From around 1900, encouraged by Whistler, Nicholson turned to painting in oils and became a successful portrait painter. He married Mabel Pryde in 1893, their eldest son, Ben Nicholson, became one of the leading figures of modern British art.

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