William Nicholson by Sanford Schwartz - review by Patrick O'Connor

Patrick O'Connor

A Cut-Out Above

William Nicholson


Yale University Press 296pp £35 order from our bookshop

'DISCONCERTINGLY POSH ' IS Sanford Schwartz's assessment of some of William Nicholson's early still life’s. During the second half of the twentieth century, this may have been many viewers' initial reaction to Nicholson's paintings. Schwartz sums him up as 'a master of evasion', 'charming, stalwart, sensation-loving, MG-driving', a 'quick-reflex man'; what could his paintings have to say about the turbulent times? Max Beerbohm's 1907 caricature of Nicholson shows him as a bow-legged dandy, hand on hip, strolling down a London street, sporting a long jacket that's tight at the waist, bow tie, bowler hat, pointy shoes and walking cane. This is not a figure from la vie de bohème.

Nicholson is, from 30 October until 23 January, the subject of a major exhibition at the Royal Academy. For the first time we may be able to see him not as a reactionary, turning away from the modernist movement, but as the superb portraitist, print-maker, landscapist and still-life painter that

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