λ Winifred Nicholson (British 1893-1981)
Landscape Under Snow, Eigg
Oil on canvas
74 x 83.5cm (29 x 32¾ in.)
Painted in circa 1950s.
With a sketch of mother and child seated verso.
Crane Kalman Gallery, London
Acquired from the above in 1992
Thence by descent to the present owner
London, Crane Kalman Gallery, The Rural Poetry of 3 English Women Painters , May-June 1992
' Those seemingly casual flowers with their airy-light petals were the work of deep understanding and mastery of colour, her lifelong study .' Kathleen Raine, from the introduction for The Rural Poetry of Three English Women Artists , Crane Kalman Gallery, 1992.
The present lot captures the dramatic weather during Winter in Eigg, one of the isles in the Scottish Hebrides. Winifred Nicholson visited Eigg for the first time in 1950 with her close friend and poet Kathleen Raine. The pair frequently travelled together following this date exploring the Scottish Hebrides, regularly staying at author Gavin Maxwell's house located in Sandaig in Ross-shire.
Winifred reveals her working processes in the Hebrides within letters, especially to her son Andrew and husband Ben. She expresses her love for the landscape and location 'this is a place after my heart' which is not full of lush greenery but greys and large stone formations. She describes the sea as 'full of grey mysterious islands and rocks, seals and seabirds.' Winifred watched the world go by during these days commenting on families going about their daily lives and animals congregating in search of food.
[letter to Andrew Nicholson, from Isle of South Uist, Hebrides c. 1950, Unknown Colour, p.228 quoted in Jovan Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Liberation of Colour , Philip Wilson Publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing, London & Dublin, 2016, p88]
Winifred was drawn to the rural setting striving for a closeness to nature. This new landscape allowed her to explore and experiment with colour an element in painting which became her core concern. Winifred worked directly from nature, working briskly almost finishing a picture in a whole sitting. She often painted late at night 'between midnight and one in the morning,' expressing how 'it is of course a magic light then.' The viewer is drawn straight into the rural landscape through Winifred's window with plants and leaves shooting upwards from the lower edge. The purple, blue and grey fluid brushstrokes capture the unpredictable weather of the Hebrides and reflect Winifred's enthusiastic and dedicated approach to working direct from nature.
[letter to Ben Nicholson, 1950s TGA 8717/1/1/1830 quoted in Jovan Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Liberation of Colour , Philip Wilson Publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing, London & Dublin, 2016, p88]