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This unusually large still life shows an unframed painting by Nicholson of the Palais Royal in Paris, with his own studio equipment arranged around it. It was a gift from the artist to the theatre producer Edward Knoblock, who had lent him his flat in the Palais Royal. At the right there is a letter from Nicholson, saying 'My dear Knoblock, Here you are, it's the best I can do. Yours affectionately, William Nicholson'. The picture may then have been painted as a present in recognition of Knoblock's kindness.
The strong eighteenth-century overtones of several of the objects, including the gilt bust and the ivory flute, suggest a conscious act of homage to Chardin.

September 2004