1930 (christmas night),
Jim Ede and Ben Nicholson met in 1924. Nicholson was still a struggling young painter and Ede’s support was crucial to allow him to pursue a career in the arts.
This painting was made at a time when Nicholson’s relationship with his first wife Winifred was coming to an end, and shortly after the death of his close friend Christopher Wood. The tension between light and dark, interior and exterior that animates the painting reflects Nicholson’s own personal turmoil. The overall mood is sombre. The reflection of the empty cot in the mirror and the presence of brushes with just the artist’s initials hint at his solitude.
Painting [BN 45]
Oil and graphite on canvas
635 x 940 mm
About the artist
Ben Nicholson was the son of the painter William Nicholson. After marrying Winifred Roberts, during the 1920s he travelled widely and lived with her between Cumberland, London, Paris and Switzerland. Following a period experimenting with a post-Cézanne manner, Nicholson developed a consciously 'primitive' landscape style in 1927, further encouraged by his encounter with the art of Alfred Wallis. Between 1931 and 1939 he lived in London in close proximity to many artists and critics such as Moore, Piper, Martin, Ede and Herbert Read. He met Arp, Brancusi, and later Mondrian, Gabo and Jean Hélion. The influence of these artists led him to develop a highly abstract style of the late 1930s, for which he is most famous. In 1931 he met Barbara Hepworth, who would become his second wife. He returned to St. Ives during the war with Hepworth, Gabo and Stokes and established an international reputation in the 1950s and 60s. After the war he lived at various times in London, Cambridge and Switzerland and married a third time to Felicitas Vogler.