Always much admired, William Nicholson’s flower pieces were usually composed of flowers from the artist’s garden, or from those of his friends and clients. Roses rarely appear and in this work they probably came from a florist.
Most of the spring and summer of 1913 Nicholson was in Paris working on the reverse glass paintings for the dining room of his friend, the American playwright Edward Knoblock (1874-1945). This was both intellectually challenging as the work is painted in reverse with the highlights first, and awkward, as the glass panels had been lying on the floor to dry and were sometimes inadvertently trodden on when stepping back to check progress (P. Reed, William Nicholson: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, London, 2011, p. 260, no. 308).
One can imagine with what pleasure, and relief, Nicholson addressed the subject of this bouquet of pink roses set in a silver lustred glass vase with bands of coloured decoration. There is a noted contrast between the soft petals and the highlights on the lustre surface, suggesting a strong artificial light. There might even be a reflection of the artist at work on the surface of the vase.
Sir Alec Martin (1884-1971), began working at Christie's at the age of 12, as an office boy, and went on to become Managing Director of the company between 1940 and 1958.
We are grateful to Patricia Reed for preparing this catalogue entry.