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This picture exemplifies Nicholson's recurrent practice of using contrasting areas of flat, vibrant colour with a pale ground that has been scrubbed and distressed. The bright patches of red and yellow act as focus points, and perhaps bring to mind late landscapes by J.M.W. Turner, such as those in the next room, which are similarly 'centred' by bright points of the same colours. But Nicholson would primarily have had in mind the grid-like abstracts of Mondrian, whom he greatly admired. There is a remarkable consistency in the way that Nicholson formulated his abstract designs, from his first such exercises in the 1920s (such as the picture displayed elsewhere in this room)though to the 1950s and '60s.

August 2004