8 June 2001
Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949)
The Blue Shawl
signed and dated 'Nicholson/1910' (lower left)
oil on canvas laid on board
36 x 28 in. (91.5 x 71.1 cm.)
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L. Browse, William Nicholson, London, 1956, no. 639.
London, International Society, Third Exhibition of Fair Women, 1910, no. 9.
London, Goupil Gallery, Oil Paintings by William Nicholson, 1911, no. 33.
Visitors to the International Society exhibition where the work was first shown would have found in the model's hairstyle and costume a reminder of the fair women of Murger's La Vie Boheme. The sketchily painted couple to the right derive from the Staffordshire group 'Bacchus and Ariadne' that Nicholson had painted the previous year in China Figures and Black Mirror (Bacon Collection on loan to Fenton House, Hampstead). They are a central feature in the 1913 still life Nature Morte (Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris).
An untraced work, The Grey Shawl, also exhibited at the International Society in 1910 is probably a pair with this work and may explain why Nicholson added the figures in the foreground.
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