An image of 1946 (still life - Alice through the looking glass)

Ben Nicholson

(England 10 Apr 1894 – 06 Feb 1982)

1946 (still life - Alice through the looking glass)

Other titles:
Still life (Alice through the looking glass), Still Life no. 6
Not on display
Further information

The first thing the viewer notices about this painting is its graphic quality. With its dependence on pencil marks and pallid colours, it hardly seems painted at all. The artist organised his surface into clearly defined, overlapping shapes with little regard to depth or dimensional interplay. The illusionism which was once the mainstay of the oil-on-canvas technique has given way to its opposite, a kind of insubstantiality. Discoveries made by Picasso and Braque before 1914 inform this belated British example of cubism . Ben Nicholson painted his first abstract in 1924 and carved his first purist relief a decade later, though representational motifs occur throughout his career. His father was the Edwardian artist and illustrator, Sir William Nicholson, some of whose pictorial discretion he inherited. Painted near the famed enclave of artists at St Ives, Cornwall, this composition is as devoid of painterly excess and vulgar display as it is full of nuance.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

oil and pencil on canvas
68.6 x 76.2 cm stretcher; 91.1 x 99.6 x 6.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Dated verso, "...1946".

Purchased 1949
Accession number
© Ben Nicholson/DACS. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Alex Reid & Lefevre, Ltd., 1946, London/England
The British Council, 1949, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from the British Council 1949. Purchased from the exhibition 'Eleven British Artists' Australian State Galleries 1949.