The black pansy 1910

William Nicholson was always torn between the need to paint society portraits to maintain his family and his love for humbler still lifes and landscape painting. Nicholson’s admiration of Édouard Manet and Edwardian interiors is evident in this still life of flowers in a ginger jar set on a white cloth. The eye is led into the picture’s velvety depth by a pair of pale gloves trailing across the table’s edge. Nicholson, a noted dandy, was particularly fond of gloves, which he designed, collected and decorated. They appear so often in his paintings that they came to be regarded as his signature motif.