EQ Nicholson

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EQ Nicholson
Npg 6444; Elsie Queen Nicholson (née Myers), cropped.jpg
Self-portrait in wax crayon and coloured ink, circa 1943 (detail)
Born Elsie Queen Myers
4 November 1908
Died 7 September 1992
Known for Painting, textile design
Spouse(s) Christopher "Kit" Nicholson

EQ Nicholson (4 November 1908 – 7 September 1992) was an English painter and textile designer.

Early life[edit]

Elsie Queen Myers was born in London on 4 November 1908, the daughter of the novelist Leo Myers and his American-born wife Elsie Mellen Palmer; her sister Eveleen was born in 1910.[1] Her paternal grandparents were the writer Frederic W. H. Myers and the photographer Eveleen Tennant; her maternal grandfather was General William Jackson Palmer of Delaware, from whose wife Mary "Queen" Palmer, née Mellen, she received her second name.[2]

Her father frequented writers and artists including members of the Bloomsbury Group, the sculptor Frank Dobson and the painter Cedric Morris. Leo Myers committed suicide on 7 April 1944 by taking an overdose of Veronal.[3][2]

In 1931, EQ married the architect Christopher "Kit" Nicholson, youngest son of the painters William Nicholson and Mabel Pryde,[4] and brother to Ben Nicholson and Nancy Nicholson. Kit and EQ had three children: two daughters, Jane Kasmin and textile designer Louisa Creed, and a son, the painter Tim Nicholson. During the Second World War EQ and the children lived at first at Yew Cottage on Cranborne Chase in Dorset,[5][6] and then, from 1941 until 1947, at Alderholt Mill House, near Fordingbridge in Hampshire.[7][8] Kit Nicholson died of injuries following a glider crash in Italy on 28 July 1948.[6]:11

EQ died in London in 1992.[9]


EQ trained briefly at the Slade School of Fine Arts under Henry Tonks[5] before studying batik in Paris in 1926. She later worked in batik as an assistant to Marion Dorn;[10] she also designed rugs.[9] When she was 20 she designed the interior of the new family home at Leckhampton House.[10]

After her marriage, she worked in Nicholson's Modernist architecture practice, where his student and protégé Hugh Casson and his wife Margaret also worked. EQ designed the interiors of Nicholson's building for the London Gliding Club at Dunstable in 1936.[9]

From about 1936 until 1950, EQ worked with her sister-in-law Nancy Nicholson, who had already printed textile designs both for her brother Ben Nicholson and for his wife Barbara Hepworth at her Poulk Press. EQ's designs from this time include Black Goose (1936), Daisy and Seaweed (1949). Some of these designs were later screen-printed by Edinburgh Weavers.[11] One of her best-known designs is Runner Bean, which dates from about 1950, and was used in Hugh Casson's furnishing of the Royal Yacht[12] and for hand-printed wallpapers by Cole & Son.[9] The archive of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, includes a collection of EQ's drawings and textiles.[13] Some of her designs are still being commercially produced.

For a period of only about fifteen years from about 1941, EQ worked intensely as a painter, in gouache, crayon and collage, in a style that owes something to Georges Braque, whom she greatly admired. She had one show, with Peter Rose Pulham (1910–56) and Keith Vaughan (1912–77), at the Hanover Gallery in 1950.[9] Works from this period are in the Tate,[14] the New Hall Art Collection[7] and the National Portrait Gallery;[12] they have been compared to those of other artist-designers such as Edward Bawden (1903–89) and Eric Ravilious (1903–42).[10]


  1. ^ Elissa Arnesen. "Tim Nicholson Collection: A holding of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Starsmore Center for Local History". Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, 2002. Accessed March 2012.
  2. ^ a b Creswell, Sophia (2004). "Myers, Leopold Hamilton (1881–1944)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35178.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.). Accessed April 2012.
  3. ^ Caroline Moorehead. Iris Origo: marchesa of Val d'Orcia[permanent dead link], Boston: David R. Godine, 2002 (1st ed. London: John Murray, 2000). ISBN 9781567921830. p. 256.
  4. ^ Vivienne Light. "In the shadow of the Chase", in Dorset Life, November 2010. Accessed March 2012.
  5. ^ a b EQ biography. Cranborne Chase Pictures. Accessed March 2012.
  6. ^ a b Neil Bingham (editor). Christopher Nicholson Royal Institute of British Architects. London: Academy Editions, 1996. ISBN 9781854904454. pp. 6–11.
  7. ^ a b About EQ Nicholson. New Hall Art Collection, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge. Accessed March 2012.
  8. ^ The Nicholsons, a story of four people and their designs: Ben Nicholson, 1894-1982; Nancy Nicholson, 1899-1977; Kit Nicholson, 1904-1948; E.Q. Nicholson, born 1908. York City Art Gallery, 1988. ISBN 9780903281065. p. 59.
  9. ^ a b c d e Richard Morphet. "Obituary: E. Q. Nicholson" The Independent, 14 September 1992. Accessed March 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Mirror Mirror - Portrait 20: Elsie Queen (EQ) Nicholson (1908-92). National Portrait Gallery. Accessed March 2012.
  11. ^ Lesley Jackson. Twentieth-century pattern design: textile & wallpaper pioneers New York: Princeton Architectural Press; London: Mitchell Beazley, 2002. ISBN 9781568983332. p. 70.
  12. ^ a b "Elsie Queen Nicholson (née Myers) (1908-1992), Designer and painter; daughter of Elsie and Leopold Myers". National Portrait Gallery. Accessed March 2012.
  13. ^ Katharine Imong. "E.Q. Nicholson" (abstract of dissertation). Royal College of Art. Accessed March 2012.
  14. ^ E.Q. Nicholson 1908-1992. Tate Collection. Accessed March 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Louisa Creed. Memories of EQ and Eve, with a memoir by Michael Gryspeerdt. York: [Quacks the Booklet Printer], [1994].
  • Richard Morphet. E. Q. Nicholson, designer & painter. London: Cygnet Press, 1990.
  • Richard Morphet. In memory of E. Q. Nicholson: service taken by the Reverend Peter Elvy, Chelsea Old Church, London November 4th 1992, E.Q.'s birthday. [London?: the Nicholson Family?], 1992.

See also[edit]