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Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949)
Brighton Pier
signed with initial 'N' (lower left)
oil on canvas-board
15 x 18 in. (38.1 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted in 1936.
Purchased in 1938 by Mrs Hanbury-Kelk, and by descent.
L. Browse, William Nicholson, London, 1956, pp. 26, 107, no. 473, pl. 44.
Exhibition catalogue, Brighton Revealed Through Artists' Eyes circa 1760 - circa 1960, Brighton, Museum and Art Gallery, 1995, no. 132, illustrated.
London, Leicester Galleries, An Exhibition of Paintings by Sir William Nicholson, May - June 1938, no. 33.
Paris, Salon d'Automne, November 1938, catalogue not traced.
New York, World's Fair, British Pavilion, Exhibition of Contemporary British Art, April - September 1939: this exhibition travelled to Canada, December 1939 - October 1940, catalogues not traced.
Santa Fé, Argentina, British Council, Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, Modern British Painting for South America, 1943: this exhibition travelled to Cordoba, Argentina, Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Museo Nacional de Belas Artes, catalogues not traced.
Brighton, Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton Revealed through Artists' Eyes circa 1760 - circa 1960, November 1995 - January 1996, no. 132.

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Lot Essay

A view of the West Pier at Brighton on a stormy winter's day; probably taken from one of the second floor balconies of the old Bedford Hotel. William Nicholson and his companion, the author Marguerite Steen, had taken a flat in Hove in the summer of 1936, soon after their return from Spain. 'William had always loved Brighton: its Regency flavour, its sweep of windblown promenade, its mélange of robustious vulgarity with Victorian decorum' (M. Steen, William Nicholson, London, 1943, p. 184). They stayed there frequently until the outbreak of the war. The pier, built between 1863 and 1866 and enlarged with a concert hall between 1914 and 1915, was one of the finest in the country. It was damaged during the Second World War and largely destroyed by fire in 2003. However the skeletal form of the Pavilion at the end of the pier still stands above the waves.

The unusual silvered frame with punched decoration is one of several made to this design by Robert Sielle (1895-1983) for Nicholson's 1938 exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, few of which have survived. His label appears on the verso. Sielle has responded to the tonal vales of the work when creating the frame, an approach that Nicholson appreciated. Post-war Sielle created frames for many other well-known artists.


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