The Duchess of Corn­wall’s favourite paint­ing

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Which work can she ‘never pass with­out stop­ping to marvel’?

In 1936, Wil­liam ni­chol­son re­ceived a knight­hood, prin­ci­pally for his work as a Society por­traitist and graphic artist. In these ca­pac­i­ties, he was un­der an obli­ga­tion to oth­ers, but when he painted land­scapes or still-lifes, the plea­sure was en­tirely his. not that he was ever a toady.

That his first mar­riage was an elope­ment an­nounced a free spirit.

Wit, sen­su­al­ity and a dandy­ish panache are all dis­played in the lus­trous Gold Jug (more ac­cu­rately a tankard) gor­geously at odds with its worka­day stu­dio sur­round­ings— the smooth with the rough. ni­chol­son was that rare English be­ing, a sen­su­al­ist. This na­tional trait still per­tains. When asked not long ago what most struck him when vis­it­ing Eng­land, a fa­mous con­tem­po­rary Ger­man artist said that he never saw peo­ple touch each other.

Sir Wil­liam’s artist son Ben ni­chol­son, who drifted in and out of ab­strac­tion, neatly fit­ted aca­demic cat­e­gori­sa­tion and, ac­cord­ingly, his art has en­tered more mu­se­ums and fetches higher prices at auc­tion. Yet, for all its op­pos­ing cool­ness, it bears the in­flu­ence of his fa­ther, es­pe­cially of his still-life pic­tures, as he proudly ad­mit­ted: ‘His po­etic ideal and his still-life theme… from the beau­ti­ful striped and spot­ted jugs and mugs and gob­lets… which he col­lected. Hav­ing those things through­out the house was an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence for me.’

It was Ken­neth Clark, direc­tor of the na­tional Gallery, who ad­vised Queen El­iz­a­beth to buy the pic­ture in July 1942. It was a month of glim­mer­ing op­ti­mism: the first Amer­i­can bomb­ing raid of Ger­many (July 4) and the success of the first Bat­tle of el Alamein (July 1–27). Per­haps in that still dim, wartime hour, the Gold Jug of­fered hope as well as golden mem­o­ries of peace.

‘Queen El­iz­a­beth the Queen Mother had an unerring eye for a good paint­ing. Sir Wil­liam Ni­chol­son’s Gold Jug is a tes­ta­ment to that. It hangs in Clarence House and I can never pass it with­out stop­ping to marvel at the way the artist catches the play of light on the jug’s lus­trous sur­face

The Duchess of Corn­wall will cel­e­brate her 70th birth­day on July 17

Gold Jug, 1937, by Sir Wil­liam Ni­chol­son (1872–1949), 16in by 13in, The Royal Col­lec­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.