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1933 (guitar) (1933)

Ben Nicholson

oil on board

Tate, London, Liverpool and St Ives

1933 (guitar) (1933)

© Angela Verren Taunt. All rights reserved, DACS 2023. Photo credit: Tate





Oil, Board

Physical Object Description:

Image of a guitar. Inscribed: ‘Ben Nicholson 1933’ on back-board.


83.2 x 19.7 cm

Accession Number:



Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1940

Ownership history:

Purchased by St John Hutchinson (1884-1942) for the Contemporary Art Society, 1934; presented to the Tate Gallery, 1940


Still Life
By using an oddly shaped piece of wooden board rather than  canvas, Ben Nicholson created a work that lies somewhere between  sculpture and painting. The effect is heightened by the  texture of the surface, which was prepared with a layer of special  plaster that the artist cut into while it was still wet. Though now framed, Nicholson preferred to leave the work unprotected. Photographs show that instead of hanging it on a wall like a conventional painting, he kept his 'scratched surrealist guitar' propped on a mantelpiece in his studio. Nicholson produced three other paintings of guitars which were executed in 1933; two were owned by H. E. ' Jim' Ede (1895-1990) of Kettle's Yard who donated his home and contents to the University of Cambridge in 1966 and the other at Leeds.

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