Ben Nicholson

Sept 58 (Iseo)

Oil & pencil on board: 21.7(h) x 35.2(w) in /

55.2(h) x 89.5(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse: Ben Nicholson / Sept 58 (Iseo)

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BT 283

 

BEN NICHOLSON

Denham 1894 – 1982 London                                        

 

Sept 58 (Iseo)

 

Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse:

Ben Nicholson/Sept 58 (Iseo)

Oil & pencil on board:

21 ¾ x 35 ¼ in / 55.2 x 89.5 cm

Frame size: 24 ⅜ x 37 ⅞ in / 61.9 x 96.2 cm

 

Provenance:

Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zurich

Professor H Krayenbühl, Zurich, 1959, acquired from the above

Christie’s London, 30th March 1981, lot 74

Waddington Galleries, London

Dr F Rentsch, Aesch, Switzerland, 1983, acquired from the above

 

Exhibited:

Zurich, Galerie Charles Lienhard, Ben Nicholson, 3rd January – 7th February 1959, cat. no. 92, illustrated

Berne, Kunsthalle Bern, Ben Nicholson, 27th May – 2nd July 1961, cat. no. 90

London, Waddington Galleries, Group V, January 1982, cat. no. 80, illustrated

Bottrop, Quadrat Bottrop Moderne Galerie, Ben Nicholson, 29th October – 10th December 1989, cat. no. 29

 

Literature:

Herbert Read, Ben Nicholson: Paintings, Tudor Publishing, New York, 1962, illustrated fig.13

John Russell, Ben Nicholson, Drawings, Paintings and Reliefs 1911-1968, Thames and Hudson, London, 1969, cat. no. 122, p.312, illustrated

 

 

Ben Nicholson and his new wife, Felicitas Vogler, left St Ives in 1958 for Ticino, Switzerland and by the summer were living at Casa Vecchia, in Ronco. Writing in 1959 about his new surroundings, Nicholson noted: ‘The landscape is superb, especially in winter and when seen from the changing levels of the mountainside. The persistent sunlight, the bare trees seen against a translucent lake, the hard, rounded forms of the snow topped mountains, and perhaps with a late evening moon rising beyond in a pale, cerulean sky is entirely magical with the kind of poetry which I would like to find in my painting’.[1]

 

Inspired by his experience of the Italian and Swiss countryside, Nicholson embarked on a series of ‘large, landscape-format Cubistic still lifes’ merging indoors with outdoors during the 1950s, which brought immediate international acclaim. August 1956 (Val d’Orcia) (Tate Gallery), won the First Guggenheim International Painting prize that year. He was also awarded first prize at the 39th Pittsburg International Exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in 1952, the Ulisse Prize at the Venice Biennale of 1954 and the International Prize for Painting at the 1957 São Paulo Biennial.

 

Jeremey Lewison writes: ‘Although Nicholson’s titles were meant to be no more than tags for identification, some of them do evoke a particular atmosphere. He wrote to Adrian Stokes in a letter dated 28 September, but postmarked 24 September 1962: ‘The title for me is the date but I need something further to enable me to recall which ptg it is – hence the subtitle – really a kind of label to identify luggage. Sometimes it comes from a reminder of a place, or even a person, or an experience, sometimes from some gramophone record or radio I’ve had on while working.’…According to Felicitas Vogler, Nicholson always kept an eye out for an interesting sounding name to append to a painting, regardless of whether the painting evoked the place or not.’ [2] Iseo is a town in Lombardy, Italy, on the south shore of Lake Iseo.

 

 

August 1956 (Val d’Orcia)

Oil, gesso & pencil on board: 48 x 84 in

Tate

 

 

 

BEN NICHOLSON

Denham 1894 – 1982 London

 

Ben Nicholson was born in Denham, Buckinghamshire in 1894, the eldest of four children of artists Sir William Nicholson and his first wife Mabel Pryde. He spent his early education at Heddon Court, Hampstead and Gresham’s School, Holt before studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1910–11, where he met and befriended Paul Nash. Following graduation, Nicholson spent time in France and Italy before living in Pasadena, California for health reasons between 1917–18. He was declared unfit for active service during the First World War due to his asthma. In 1920 Nicholson married the artist Winifred Roberts and they subsequently divided their time between London, Cumberland and Switzerland, often visiting Paris on the way. Having experienced Cubism first hand, he produced his first abstract paintings in 1924. That same year he held his first solo exhibition at the Twenty-One Gallery, London and was invited to become a member of the Seven and Five Society.

Accompanied by the artist Christopher Wood, Nicholson visited St Ives, Cornwall for the first time in August 1928, where they discovered the painter Alfred Wallis who would become an important influence on them both. In 1931 he met the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and within a year began sharing a studio with her in Hampstead. Together they held a joint exhibition at Tooth’s Gallery, London in 1932. Nicholson would go on to marry Hepworth after his divorce from Winifred Nicholson was finalised in 1938. From 1933 Nicholson became a member of Unit One and was invited, together with Hepworth, to join the group Abstraction-Création. He began making abstract reliefs in 1933 and a series of white painted reliefs the following year which would establish his international reputation. Winifred’s move to Paris in 1932 with their children meant that Nicholson visited often, enabling him to establish links with other artists there, including Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Jean Arp. In 1934 he met Piet Mondrian and played an active role in his move to Hampstead in 1938. Nicholson co-edited the publication Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art with the sculptor Naum Gabo and the architect Sir Leslie Martin in 1937.

 

In 1939 Nicholson and Hepworth relocated with the triplets (born in 1934) to Cornwall where he resumed painting landscapes and coloured abstract reliefs. His international reputation grew during the 1950s as a result of a series of large still lifes for which he received several important prizes. In 1954 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale (alongside Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon) and was awarded the Ulisse prize. The following year the Tate Gallery held the first of two retrospectives of his work, the second being shown in 1969. In 1958 he moved to Switzerland with his third wife Felicitas Vogler (Hepworth and Nicholson having divorced in 1951) where he began to concentrate once more on abstract reliefs including a large wall relief made in 1964 for the Documenta III exhibition in Kassel, Germany. He was awarded the Order of Merit in 1968. Nicholson returned to England in 1971, living until 1974 in Cambridge and then in Hampstead where he remained until his death in 1982.

 

[1] Ben Nicholson cited in Norbert Lynton, Ben Nicholson, Phaidon, London, 1993, p.311.

[2] Ben Nicholson cited in Jeremy Lewison, Ben Nicholson, Tate Gallery, 1994, No. 107, p.230.

Post War BritishBen Nicholson