Ben Nicholson was one of the few artists working in England who reacted to the art of Matisse, Braque and Picasso, which he saw on his visits to France in the 1920s. However, he also acknowledged the influence of his family; his mother, his uncle, as well as his father, William Nicholson, were all painters. According to Ben Nicholson his interest in still life 'didn’t come from Cubism, as some people think, but from my father – not only from what he did as a painter, but from the very beautiful striped and spotted jugs and mugs and goblets and octagonal and hexagonal glass objects which he collected. Having these things throughout the house was an unforgettable experience for me.'
In this painting, Nicholson takes the abstraction of these forms to its absolute limit. The cup and wine glass have been reduced to their simplest form, although they are still recognisable as vessels. The small blocks of red and green colour have become independent of the objects, but add depth to the picture plane. By this time, Nicholson had already produced purely abstract works, most notably his famous 'White Reliefs'. From this point on in his career, abstract and representational painting were both given equal prominence in his art.
Where to see this painting?
Abbot Hall Art Gallery
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More on this painting
purchased with the assistance of the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, 1963
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