Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Art Review - "Primulas on a Table" by William Nicholson

I'm currently working on a larger still life, and it brings to mind one of my all-time favorites for today's #museumtourtuesday.

This piece is by British artist William Nicholson. I still remember the first time I saw it in person at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I found it inspiring for a number of reasons. Back in 1991, during my first trip to New York, I had never painted a floral, and had no interest in them, but this piece is less about the flowers and more about the overall design.

While the bouquet and the dramatic shape of its shadow take center stage, the other elements move your eye throughout the painting. The flow of the edge of the table swoops up and to the right, and yet the decorative plate and the dark scissors pull the eye back down. The thick paint depicting the pattern of the tablecloth creates a sense of depth, while that small peek at the chair and window drapes suggests that there is so much more to the room. It all comes together in a wonderful bit of storytelling.

Born in 1872, Nicholson worked primarily as an illustrator until 1900, when he was encouraged by James McNeill Whistler to concentrate on painting. He went on to have a number of pupils, including Sir
Winston Churchill.

"Primulas on a Table" • William Nicholson • Oil on Wood • 23 3/4" x 16 3/4 • 1928


© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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