Winifred Nicholson 'Sea Treasures', oils  -  Goods in transit insurance £75,000
Lot 16A
Winifred Nicholson (British, 1893-1981) Sea Treasures 60 x 76 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 in.)
Sold for £174,000 (US$ 292,462) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Winifred Nicholson (British, 1893-1981)
Sea Treasures
signed, inscribed and dated 'Sea Treasures Winifred Nicholson 1952' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
60 x 76 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 in.)
Painted in 1952


    Gifted by the artist to the family of the present owner

    The present work depicts the view towards the Hebridean islands of Eigg and Rhum. This was painted from the window sill of author Gavin Maxwell's house when the artist was staying there. Maxwell famously wrote Ring of Bright Water, an autobiographical account of his self imposed exile and the otters that lived with him.

    Nicholson's friend, the poet Kathleen Raine, had been in love with Maxwell and the women made annual trips to his Sandaig retreat to live primitively, paint and write.

    The present work relates very closely to Shells (1950s) and depicts the same yellow and pink flower arrangements in jam jars. Here however, she has developed the composition adding more shells and a purple, prickly sea urchin. Colour dominates through the glacial blue of the water and gem-like hues of the still life, her 'sea treasures'.

    1952 was clearly an inspirational year for Winifred as testified by the fact that her auction record dates from this period (Over the Sea to Eigg sold in 2007 for £168,000). In a letter to son Jake she says "This place looks even more beautiful this year in stormy weather, and is even harder to paint. The high mountains shroud themselves and blot themselves out with white cloud, with black cloud, with drifting mist and drifting sunshine...And Eigg a faraway blue island of the blest out on the horizon of our sound, is bathed in tranquil sunlight...I have been very happy painting" (Andrew Nicholson, Unknown Colour, Faber and Faber, London, 1987, p.221).

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this lot was exhibited: London, Leicester Galleries, Recent Paintings by Winifred Nicholson, Feb – March 1954, no. 26 Edinburgh, Dean Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Winifred Nicholson in Scotland, no. 15, 10th July – 7th September 2003, and tour to Duff House, Banff, 8th November 2003 – 18th January 2004, and An Tuireann, Skye, 24th January – 20th March 2004, illustrated in the catalogue by Alice Strang p. 37.
  1. Matthew Bradbury
    Specialist - Modern British and Irish Art
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