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Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981)

Biography of artist Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981)

Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981) was born on 21st December 1893 in Oxford, as Rosa Winifred Roberts. Her mother Lady Cecilia Howard was a daughter of the politician George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle. Her father, an accomplished artist himself, painted with Winifred from an early age.

Nicholson attended the Byam Shaw School of Art. She also studied in Paris and India. She married Ben Nicholson in 1920, initially exhibiting for some while under her maiden name of Winifred Roberts.

Nicholson exhibited at the Mayor Gallery and became a member of the New England Art Club.

Unlike her husband Ben, she was never really a member of the then newly founded St Ives School and she never permanently lived there, travelling extensively as she did.

Nicholson experimented in her own form of abstraction in the 1930s. Influences between Ben and Winifred were mutual, Ben Nicholson admitting that he learnt a lot about colour from Winifred.

After their divorce in 1938, Nicholson spent most of her long life in Cumberland. The Tate Gallery had a significant exhibition of her work in 1987, and the Kettle's Yard in Cambridge have a large collection.

An auction record was set for her work in March 2011 in London when Sea Treasures, a 1952 work, realised £145,000.

PC Konody, writing in the Observer in 1927, said: 'She probably has no equal among Modern British painters, as a colourist of the most exquisite refinement'.

Winifred Nicholson died on 5th March 1981.

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