Ben Nicholson

May 1959 (Porta San Jacopo, San Gimignano)

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About this artwork

San Gimignano, near Siena in Italy, is a well-preserved Renaissance hill-town. Nicholson first visited it in 1950 but returned on several occasions following his relocation to Switzerland in 1958. The combination of architecture and landscape suited Nicholson because it allowed him to mix geometry with natural forms. Here he has captured the curvature of a stone archway in the town. These confident, singular lines of the man-made forms contrast to the feverish scribble of the tree in the background. The warm wash of oil paint gives the work a continental glow of spring sunshine. This emphasises Nicholson’s statement: “When I draw an Italian cathedral I don’t draw its architecture, but the feeling it gives me”.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
    Ben NicholsonEnglish (1894 - 1982)
  • title:
    May 1959 (Porta San Jacopo, San Gimignano)
  • date created:
    May 1959
  • materials:
    Pencil and oil wash
  • measurements:
    Paper: 36.00 x 51.00 cm (framed: 49.00 x 64.00 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Bequeathed by Felicitas Vogler 2007
  • accession number:
    GMA 4880
  • gallery:
  • artwork photographed by:
    Antonia Reeve
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Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson