Lot 2
  • 2

Sir William Nicholson

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sir William Nicholson
  • The Lustre Jug
  • signed and bears an indistinct date
  • oil on canvasboard
  • 36.5 by 28.5cm.; 14¼ by 11¼in.
  • Executed in 1910.


Presented by the Artist to Marie Laquelle
Marie Laquelle's Executors
Leger Galleries, London, 1949
Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, 1949
Sir Edward Maufe, 1951
Private Collection
Sale, Sotheby’s London, 19th June 1996, lot 28 (as Pewter Jug and Blue Curtain), where acquired by the present owner


London, Chenil Gallery, Provençal Studies and Other Works by Augustus E. John, 1910, cat. no.94;
London, Goupil Gallery, Oil Paintings by William Nicholson, 1911, cat. no.7;
London, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, William Nicholson and Josef Herman, October - November 1951, cat. no.21 (as Pewter Jug and Blue Curtain, dated 1903). 


Lillian Browse, William Nicholson, Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1956, p.37, cat. no.13 (as Pewter Jug and Blue Curtain) and cat. no.135 (as Jug on a Table); 
Patricia Reed, William Nicholson: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Modern Art Press, London, 2001, cat. no.217, illustrated p.194 (dated 1910).

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1910, The Lustre Jug is a remarkable and early example of two key themes which interested the artist throughout his life; firstly, the scintillating and multifarious play of light on different materials and, secondly, the enduring subject of the still life which provided a very necessary antidote to his hectic life as a fashionable portraitist. The confident and fluid impasto of the present work clearly signals his exemplary draughtsmanship and his unique ability to capture the reflective quality and rich material of the lustre jug with a few carefully placed highlights. Importantly, this effect directly anticipates his seminal still life executed a year later, The Lustre Bowl with Green Peas (1911) now in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Moreover, the contrast of the gleaming jug against the rich dark tones of the table top and drapery also draws references to still life subjects from the Dutch 17th Century and are indicative of Nicholson's acute eye for both colour and composition.

Indeed, the elegantly minimal arrangement of the composition is typical of the artist during this period leading up to the First World War and in the next decades, he began to introduce more objects into his still lifes. Like all his works in this genre, whilst it appears at first to be quite spontaneous and informal, in reality, Nicholson was very careful in his consideration of each still life, with the choice of objects and textures balancing each other supremely well. In the present work, the light hue of the backdrop and velvety texture of the drapery provides a direct contrast to the polished jug. In addition, the jug itself is carefully positioned at a slight angle and this is discreetly counter-balanced by the diagonal swathe of the drapery across the composition resulting in a sophisticated simplicity that demonstrates Nicholson at his best.