Sir William Nicholson

Harbour in Snow, La Rochelle


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Not on display

Sir William Nicholson 1872–1949
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 353 × 454 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1983

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Towards the end of his life Nicholson twice went to La Rochelle, on the Atlantic coast of France. He was particularly fond of the town, and these visits were his last abroad. In 1938 he painted at least eight views of La Rochelle, mostly looking down on the harbour from his first-floor room.
The painting is almost entirely grey. Nicholson often limited his colours, and was happy to take advantage of the fall of snow. The paint was spread thickly over the canvas with both brush and knife, like a fine pâté on bread. Some details are shaped in relief, and others scratched through the paint to a layer beneath.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03792 Harbour in Snow, La Rochelle 1938

Oil on canvas laid on board 13 3/4 × 17 3/4 (350 × 450)
Inscribed ‘N.’ b.l.
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1983
Prov: ...; Roland, Browse and Delbanco; sold to A.D. Peters; bequeathed to a private collector; sold Christie's, 12 March 1982 (144, repr.), bt Browse and Darby, from whom purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1983
Exh: Exhibition of Paintings by Sir William Nicholson and Jack B. Yeats, National Gallery, January 1942 (73a); British Painting 1925–1950, and Anthology, AC, New Burlington Gallery, June–July 1951, Manchester City Art Gallery, August–September 1951 (92); William Nicholson, Centenary Exhibition, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, April–May 1972, Aldeburgh Festival, June 1972 (37)
Lit: Marguerite Steen, William Nicholson, 1943, pp.197 ff.; Robert Nichols, William Nicholson, 1948 (15, repr. in col.); Lillian Browse, William Nicholson, 1956, cat. no. 481, p.108

Nicholson stayed in La Rochelle during the winter of 1938–9. Marguerite Steen, who was with him, describes his affection for the town, and the preoccupation of the people there with news of the expected war. Lillian Browse lists nine paintings of La Rochelle of 1938–9, all of about this size, and refers to them (loc.cit):

the lovely group of La Rochelle pictures, most of them looking down upon the harbour from his window, represent Nicholson's swan-song of landscape.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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