Winifred Roberts was born into an eminent English family, prominent in art and politics. She studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London. A trip to India in 1919 sparked a lifelong interest in the portrayal of light, shade and space using colour. She married Ben Nicholson in 1920, and had a productive career from that point until 1980. Winifred Nicholson became well known as a painter of flowers at the end of the 1920s and in the 1930s she also experimented with abstraction.