Ben Nicholson OM

1932 (Auberge de la Sole Dieppoise)


Not on display

Ben Nicholson OM 1894–1982
Oil paint, graphite and plaster on plywood
Support: 937 × 759 mm
frame: 983 × 804 × 70 mm
Presented by Mr and Mrs Michael Sacher through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967

Display caption

This painting depicts the likeness of Barbara Hepworth reflected in the window of a modest hotel-restaurant. In the summer of 1932 Nicholson and Hepworth visited cubist painter Georges Braque in Dieppe. The use of words to emphasise the flatness of the picture surface was a device employed by Braque between 1910 and 1920, but the sparseness of the composition and lack of tangible objects was particular to Nicholson. He wrote that the paintings’ roughness was a forerunner of his first abstract relief, made at the end of 1933.

Gallery label, September 2016

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Catalogue entry

Ben Nicholson 1894-1982

T00944 Auberge de la Sole Dieppoise 1932

Inscribed on reverse, ‘Ben Nicholson 1932’, ‘Auberge de la Sole Dieppoise’ and ‘for Nancy Dec 1938 with love from Ben’. Inscribed on cross-bar ‘7 The Mall Parkhill Rd London N.W.3’.
Oil, pencil and plaster on board, 36¿ x 29¿ (93.5 x 76).
Presented by Mr and Mrs Michael Sacher through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967.
Coll: Presented by the artist to his sister Nancy 1938; Jenny Nicholson Crosse 1954; Patrick Crosse; Nancy Nicholson; the artist; Mr and Mrs M. Sacher.
Exh: Carvings by Barbara Hepworth. Paintings by Ben Nicholson, Arthur Tooth & Sons, November–December 1932 (3), as ‘Auberge Dieppoise’; Lefevre Gallery, May 1947 (42); Tate Gallery, June–July 1955 (11, repr.) as ‘Auberge de la Sole, Dieppoise’; Art in Britain 1930–40, Marlborough Fine Art, March–April 1965 (117, repr.)
Repr: Herbert Read, Ben Nicholson, Paintings, Reliefs, Drawings, 1948, pi. 63.

The artist wrote (20 November 1967): ‘this painting... was indirectly the outcome of a weekend... at Dieppe – which used to be a delightful place and with Varengeville sands stretching for miles. And Braque’. He added (21 May 1968): ‘At a guess I’d say that the “roughness” of the “Auberge de la Sole Dieppoise” is a forerunner of the first relief, end of 1933’. He also wrote (3 October 1967): ‘It... [is]... one of the very few paintings I’ve made in which a human being comes into it’. Most of the others occur in the early 1930s. Both ‘Au Chat Botté’ 1932 (Manchester City Art Gallery) and ‘profile (Venetian red)’ 1932 (private collection, Sheffield) combine a female head with a table top (including table legs similar to the vertical shape at the bottom of T00944) and with flecked or spotted areas suggesting curtains, as in the present work.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1967–1968, London 1968.

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