- Other Titles
- Still life (Alice through the looking glass)
Still Life no. 6
- Media category
- Materials used
- 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
- 20th-century galleries (ground floor)
- Accession number
- © Estate of Ben Nicholson/DACS. Copyright Agency
- Artist information
Works in the collection
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.
Shown in 9 exhibitions
Modern British Paintings, British Institute, Athens, Athens, Oct 1947–Nov 1947
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jul 1949–21 Aug 1949
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1949–1949
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street], Melbourne, 1949–1949
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1949–1949
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Launceston, 1949–1949
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, 1949–1949
Eleven British Artists, Australia 1949, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 1949–1949
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1949, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Dec 1949–17 Feb 1950
18 British paintings from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, Jun 1965–Jul 1965
Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart (2002), S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 12 Jan 2002–24 Feb 2002
Modern Britain 1900-1960, NGV: International, Melbourne, 15 Nov 2007–24 Feb 2008
Matisse and the moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Apr 2015–25 Oct 2015
20th-Century galleries Rehang (Ground Level), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Aug 2022–2023
(Ben Nicholson), Alex Reid & Lefevre, Ltd., London, 1946?–1946?
Referenced in 13 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 56 (colour illus.).
Emmanuel Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays par un groupe d'écrivans spécialistes français et étrangers, Paris, 1953, 464 (illus.).
René Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 56.
Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 138 (illus.).
Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 164 (colour illus.).
Ted Gott, Laurie Benson and Sophie Matthiesson, Modern Britain 1900-1960, Melbourne, 2007, 206 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 63 (colour illus.).
Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 139. cat.no. 1596
Ben Nicholson, Ben Nicholson, London, 1955, (illus.). Vol. 1, plate no. 173
Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart selections, Sydney, 2002. No catalogue numbers; titled 'Still life'; Jeffrey Smart selection.
The British Council (Organiser), Eleven British artists, London, 1949, (illus.). cat.no. 26, listed as 'Still Life (No. 6)'
The British Council, Modern British Paintings, London, 1947. cat.no. 37
The Lefevre Gallery, (Ben Nicholson), London, 1946. cat.no. 70, listed as 'Still Life (6)'
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.
Other works by Ben Nicholson
See all 5 works