Support: Wove paper
Sheet: 30.7 x 24 cm (12 1/16 x 9 7/16 in.); Image: 24.6 x 19.9 cm (9 11/16 x 7 13/16 in.)
Gift of John Bonebrake 2010.628
Catalogue raisonné: Campbell, 25C
Nicholson, like so many European and American artists at the time, was influenced by the nontraditional aspects of Japanese art. As in ukiyo-e, Japanese color woodcuts, Nicholson used a limited color scheme and simplified forms, silhouetting his subjects on solid backgrounds that flatten space.
An Alphabet was the first of several sets of prints Nicholson made for the publisher William Heinemann, who was not solely motivated by profit; he found books a source of intellectual pleasure and, as a cultured man with cosmopolitan tastes, appreciated Nicholson’s bold and witty designs. Nicholson cut woodblocks for the images that were first issued in a small edition of hand-colored woodcuts. The designs were then published in large editions as color lithographs.
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