Some Nicholson Frames


Oval Form no.2 by Barbara Hepworth, pencil and gouache on paper, in a frame constructed by Ben Nicholson, was recently sold at auction. We were asked to frame a photograph of the drawing. Making the frame was like making a Ben Nicholson construction; it was a great privilege. I used a simple pine moulding, the horizontal sides overlapping the vertical sides, and painted white.


Similarly, a photograph of Trio (Tendon Transplant) by Barbara Hepworth, oil and pencil on board, was framed in a white-washed oak moulding, but with corners overlapping anti-clockwise.


Project by Ben Nicholson, oil on cardboard, another photo, this time in a narrower white-washed oak moulding, with corners overlapping clockwise.


1943 (painting) by Ben Nicholson, oil on board, also a photograph, framed in the same way.


A photographic facsimile of San Gimignano (Crescent Moon) by Ben Nicholson, pencil and oil on board, in an anti-clockwise unpainted oak frame.


Lastly, and my favourite, Bus Ticket by Ben Nicholson, oil and pencil on panel, signed and inscribed ‘Redd/from/Ben’ (verso), also in an anti-clockwise unpainted oak frame.

I have considered the frame which surrounds a work of mine as a vital part of its presentation. Therefore, I have always seen to the framing of my work myself… The corners of the frame should not be mitred diagonally. The four sides should abutt each other, aligned so that the top side extends over the left side vertical and that the right-side vertical rises so as to extend over the side of the top lateral. Similarly, the left-side vertical is to extend across the end of the bottom lateral while the bottom lateral is to extend across the end of the right-side vertical.

Ben Nicholson

‘The 24 bus passes the bottom end of Parkhill Road on its way from Camden Town to Hampstead; among its most important stops in the West End is Tottenham Court Road. Nicholson made a small number of bus ticket objects in which he recognised the compositional and decorative effect of lettering which he saw on placards and signs’

Jeremy Lewison, Ben Nicholson, The Tate Gallery, London, 1993, p.212

“Such a wonderful collection. I visited Cyril when I was doing a Winifred Nicholson exhibition and remember wanting to steal some of the small works by Ben. Particularly the bus ticket!”

Dr Judith Collins

The Reddihough Collection

Frames of reference

4 thoughts on “Some Nicholson Frames”

  1. ” The corners of the frame should not be mitred diagonally.” – Why not diagonally? Is it a structural or visual aspect?

    My thoughts; I think the artworks with strong horizontal and vertical lines work extremely well in abutted corner frames. The frames become a part of the art piece in whole. Although, I’m not as convinced with the framing of “Trio”.

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