- Ben Nicholson
- Jan. 1956 (Zennor Head)
- Signed Ben Nicholson and titled on the reverse
- Oil and pencil on board
- 21 by 45 1/4 in.
- 53.5 by 115 cm
Isaacs Gallery, Toronto
Waddington Galleries, London
Sale: Christie's, New York, November 10, 1999, lot 631
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
The long, horizontal format of Nicholson's earth-toned compositions were inspired by the rugged landscape of Cornwall in the south-west of England. Nicholson moved to the region in 1939 to live with Barbara Hepworth in the artist's colony of St. Ives. During the ensuing two decades, he sketched and painted a variety of motifs based on his favorite places in the surrounding area, including Lelant, Mount's Bay and Zennor.
Nicholson was heavily influenced by the Cubists, and the deconstructed, geometricized elements of the present composition, which is actually a still-life of table wares, is a clear inheritor of that avant-garde tradition. Its thematically disjunctive title, however, distinguishes Nicholson's picture from the analytic Cubist still-lifes of Braque, Gris or Picasso. Norbert Lynton has observed the following about the present work in particular: "Landscape colours had already tended to overrun Ben Nicholson's still-life compositions, denaturalizing familiar goblets, jugs and vases. This is most marked in 1956, January (Zennor Head), whose title refers us to the coast of west St. Ives" (N. Lynton, op. cit., p. 296).