This unique trial proof shows a sequence of profiles, cut from a frieze, whereby the central image is flanked by overlapping parts of the same profile on either side. Jeremy Lewison cites the present impression, dedicated to Dr. Honeyman, in his article and catalogue of Nicholson's early prints and suggests that it was probably created as an experiment for a fabric design.
Thomas J. Honeyman (1891-1971), who was later appointed director of the Glasgow Art Gallery, was an enthusiast of both Nicholson and Picasso. He organised his first exhibition, Thirty Years of Picasso, in 1930 in London, before becoming a director of Reid & Lefevre in 1932. The year this linocut was made, in 1933, Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth had their first joint exhibition at this gallery, showing, among other works, six fabric designs between them.
Nicholson was very critical of his own creative output, destroying many of his prints and correspondence in an attempt to retrospectively edit his life’s work. As a result, we know very little about his early linocuts and his thoughts around them. As to this particular subject, Profile, Lewison records 12 impressions, three of which can be seen in a photograph of Nicholson's studio taken by Barbara Hepworth in 1933.
The variations in density and texture, which can be achieved in linocut, appealed to Nicholson, who inked his own plates in order to create essentially unique impressions. The technique of linocut is a method of block printing first used by the German Expressionists in the early years of the 20th century. It is however more likely that Nicholson was introduced to the technique by Claude Flight, the founder of the Grosvenor School of Art. Flight, Nicholson and Hepworth were all members of the Seven and Five Society, a group of seven artists and five sculptors. Hepworth had a significant influence on Nicholson's style, technique and subject matter, and the present linocut is, as Lewison believes, based on Hepworth's profile - one of only three known portrait prints by Nicholson.