Details & Cataloguing

The Fine Art Society: 142 Years on New Bond Street


Sir William Nicholson
oil on canvasboard
29.5 by 40cm., 11¾ by 15½in.
Executed circa 1907.
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George Crawley, and thence by descent
Sotheby's, Pulborough, 25 October 1994, lot 351 
Jonathan Clark Fine Art, London
Stephen Somerville 
Private Collection, UK
Bonhams, London, 10 June 2015, lot 50


London, The Fine Art Society, Counterpoint: Modern Realism 1910-1950, 6 - 26 May 2016, no.10, illustrated


Patricia Reed, William Nicholson: a Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, London, 2011, p.127, no.114, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The present scene is a view of Shingle Street, near Hollesley bay in Suffolk. It lies at the mouth of Orford Ness between Orford and Bawdsey. The Martello tower built in the early 19th century can be seen on the left.

We are grateful to Patricia Reed for her kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.

Nicholson was one of the most significant artists of his generation, distinctive and highly original in his visual language and approach to painting and he became a modernist master whilst working with traditional subject matter.


Nicholson’s painting bears greatest stylistic correlation to the artists most diligently studied in England during his training in the 1890s - Whistler, Manet and Corot - yet his modernity and identity is highly personal and distinct, looking forward as well as back.  Indeed, the particular timbre of Nicholson’s work was admired by modernist artists and can be clearly traced in the evolution of twentieth-century art, alongside early modernists such as Cézanne, Bonnard and Morandi.


The present work is entirely typical of Nicholson’s majestic landscapes and evokes his very best work. As clouds gently roll into the scene, soon to overcome the sandy windswept vista, small houses ornament the horizon, delicately perched between the two worlds; the fragility of the scene is expressed through beautifully textured, layered brushstrokes. As the scene is fragmented into three compositional bands the broad planes of colour precipitate the fragmentation of tones that were to dominate modernist painting and beyond into the middle of the 20th century.

The Fine Art Society: 142 Years on New Bond Street