Sir William Nicholson
William Newzam Prior Nicholson
5 February 1872
|Died||16 May 1949 (aged 77)|
|Known for||Painter of portraits, still-lifes and landscapes; engraver, graphic artist, illustrator|
(m. 1893; died 1918)
(m. 1919, separated)
|Children||5, including Ben, Nancy and Christopher|
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (5 February 1872 – 16 May 1949) was a British painter of still-life, landscape and portraits. He also worked as a printmaker in techniques including woodcut, wood-engraving and lithography, as an illustrator, as an author of children's books and as a designer for the theatre.
William Nicholson was born in Newark-on-Trent on 5 February 1872, the youngest son of William Newzam Nicholson, an industrialist and Conservative MP of Newark, and his wife Annie Elizabeth Prior, the daughter of Joseph Prior and Elizabeth (née Mallam) of Woodstock, Oxon. From the age of 9 he attended Magnus Grammar School, first as a weekly boarder, later as a day-boy. He had art lessons from the painter, politician and art-master William Cubley of Newark-on-Trent, who had been a pupil of Sir William Beechey, in turn a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was briefly a student at Hubert von Herkomer's art school, where he met his future wife Mabel Pryde (1871–1918), who introduced him to her brother James Pryde (1866–1941). From the autumn of 1891 he attended the Académie Julian in Paris, but after six months returned to Newark.
In the spring of 1893, Nicholson eloped with Mabel Pryde, whom he had by then known for four years; they were married in Ruislip on 25 April. The couple went to live in what had been a pub, the Eight Bells at Denham, Bucks. They were soon joined by Mabel's brother James, and not long after by Ellen Terry's son Edward Gordon Craig and his wife May, who had also recently eloped and married. Nicholson received an annual allowance of £150 from his father.
William and Mabel Nicholson had four children: the celebrated painter Ben (1894–1982); Anthony (1897–1918), who died of wounds in France during the First World War; Annie Mary "Nancy" (1899–1978), artist and wife of the poet Robert Graves; and the architect and designer Christopher "Kit" (1904–1948). Mabel died in July 1918 in the Spanish flu epidemic, and Anthony died soon afterwards.
From about 1910 until he remarried in 1919, Nicholson's housekeeper Marie Laquelle, whose real name was Adèle Marie Schwarz, née Schiestel, was also his mistress. Nicholson painted her several times, first as Carlina in 1909; he also painted her daughter Georgette and her second husband Norman Holder.
In October 1919, Nicholson married Edith Stuart-Wortley, widow of Sir John Stuart-Wortley, and who, under the name Elizabeth Drury, was also a painter. Nicholson had painted her in the previous year as Lady in Grey. Their daughter Liza was born in 1920. Edie had two children from her previous marriage, and Nancy's daughter Jennie had been born the previous year. Nicholson's books for children all date from the 1920s; around this time he lived at the Old Manor House, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire.
From 1935 until his death, Nicholson's companion was the novelist Marguerite Steen. According to Steen, they met in Andalucia in May 1935, and by mid-June were living together at Nicholson's mews studio in Apple Tree Yard, off Jermyn Street. Nicholson had been separated from Edie for some years, but they remained on good terms; although she promised to give him a divorce, she never did so.
From 1893 to 1898, Nicholson collaborated with his brother-in-law James Pryde on poster design and other graphic work including signboard painting and book illustration. They called themselves the Beggarstaffs, or J. & W. Beggarstaff; in recent times they have been referred to as the Beggarstaff Brothers, although they did not use this name.
Book design and illustration
Nicholson provided illustrations and a cover design for An Alphabet by William Nicholson, An Almanac of Twelve Sports by William Nicholson with words by Rudyard Kipling, and London Types, all three published by William Heinemann in 1898. Two years later came The Square book of Animals by Sir William Nicholson with Rhymes by Arthur Waugh (W. Heinemann, 1900). He also illustrated several of the early books of his son-in-law Robert Graves and The Velveteen Rabbit, a book for children by Margery Williams (1922), and a new edition by Heinemann of John Gay’s Polly (1923). He also wrote and illustrated two books of his own for children, Clever Bill (1926) and The Pirate Twins (1929), both published by Faber & Faber. In 1929 he provided illustrations for a new edition of Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man.
From about 1900, Nicholson concentrated on painting, encouraged by Whistler. He first exhibited as a painter at the International Society, of which Whistler was President.
Work in other fields
In 1904, he designed the original settings for Peter Pan, and went on to design other plays and to illustrate several books. He also designed stained glass, notably a memorial window at St Andrew's Church, Mells.
|Olympic medal record|
|1928 Amsterdam||Graphic works|
Nicholson was awarded a gold medal in the graphic works section of the Art competitions at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam for his Almanach de douze sports 1898, the French edition of the Almanac of Twelve Sports, published 30 years earlier. He was knighted in 1936.
- An Alphabet. London: William Heinemann, 1898.
- Twelve Portraits. London: William Heinemann; [New York]: R.H. R[ussell], 1899.
- Douze portraits Paris: H. Floury, .
- Characters of Romance. London: William Heinemann, New York: R.H. Russell, 1900.
- Twelve Portraits – Second Series. London: William Heinemann; New York: R.H. Russell, 1902.
- Clever Bill. [London]: William Heinemann, .
- The Pirate Twins. [London]: Faber & Faber, .
- The Book of Blokes. [London]: Faber & Faber, .
- An Almanac of Twelve Sports. Verses by Rudyard Kipling, illustrations by William Nicholson. London: William Heinemann, 1897.
- Almanach de douze sports 1898. Illustrations by William Nicholson, text by Octave Uzanne (Kipling's verses were not used in the French edition). Paris: Société française d'éditions d'art, .
- London Types. Quatorzains by William Ernest Henley, illustrations by William Nicholson. London: William Heinemann; New York: R.H. Russell, 1898.
- Tony Drum: a Cockney Boy. Edwin Pugh, ten coloured plates from designs by the Beggarstaff Brothers (five by Nicholson, five by James Pryde). London: William Heinemann; New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1898.
- The Square Book of Animals. Rhymes by Arthur Waugh, illustrations by William Nicholson. London: William Heinemann, 1900 (designed 1896, copyright 1899).
- Oxford, Parts I and II, each containing lithographs by William Nicholson, descriptive notes by Arthur Waugh. London: Stafford Gallery, 1905.
- The Velveteen Rabbit, or, How Toys Became Real. Margery Williams, illustrations by William Nicholson. London: William Heinemann, 1922.
The principal exhibitions of William Nicholson include:
|1903||Stafford Gallery, London||The Works of William Nicholson||first one-man show|
|April 1905||Galeries Barbazanges, Paris||Exposition des oeuvres de William Nicholson|
|1906||W. B. Paterson Gallery, London|
|June–July 1910||Chenil Gallery, London||Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson: Rottingdean Landscapes and Other Subjects|
|April–May 1911||Goupil Galleries, London||Oil Paintings by William Nicholson|
|June–July 1918||Goupil Galleries, London||Still-life etc. by William Nicholson |
|June–July 1927||Beaux Arts Gallery, London||Pictures and Drawings by William Nicholson |
|1930||Beaux Arts Gallery, London|
|1933||Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham||first retrospective|
|May–June 1933||Beaux Arts Gallery, London||Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson ||retrospective|
|1934||City Museum and Art Gallery, Belfast||Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Prints by William Nicholson ||retrospective|
|1934||Leicester Galleries, London||Recent Paintings by William Nicholson |
|1936||Leicester Galleries, London||An Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson|
|1938||Leicester Galleries, London||An Exhibition of Paintings by Sir William Nicholson|
|1942||National Gallery, London||Exhibition of Paintings by Sir William Nicholson and Jack B. Yeats||retrospective, with Jack Yeats retrospective|
|1943||Leicester Galleries, London|
|1945||Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London||Paintings by Sir William Nicholson|
|1947||Arts Council, London||Sir William Nicholson: Paintings, Woodcuts and Lithographs|
|1951||Leger Gallery, London|
|1951||Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London|
|1954||Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London|
|1967||Marlborough Fine Art, London||William Nicholson|
|1967||Folio Society, London||Sir William Nicholson: Prints and Drawings|
||William Nicholson Centenary Exhibition|
|1980–81||William Nicholson: Paintings, Drawings and Prints|
|April–May 1981||Maclean Gallery||William Nicholson: Woodcuts and Lithographs|
|1982–83||William Nicholson: segno e immagine in un'ottica vittoriana|
|1990||Browse & Darby||William Nicholson, 1872–1949|
|1995–96||William Nicholson: Landscape and Still-life|
|May–July 1998||Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Darmstadt||William Nicholson, das graphische Werk: 1895–1905|
|October 2004 – January 2005||Royal Academy of Arts, London||William Nicholson (1872–1949): British Painter and Printmaker|
- Lillian Browse (1956). William Nicholson. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.
- Patricia Reed (2011). William Nicholson: Catalogue raisonné of the Oil Paintings. London; New Haven: Modern Art Press, Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300170542
- Colin Campbell (1992). William Nicholson: The Graphic Work. London: Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 071262189X.
- Colin Campbell, Merlin James, Patricia Reed and Sanford Schwartz (2004). The Art of William Nicholson. London: Royal Academy of Arts. ISBN 1903973449.
- Sanford Schwartz (2004). William Nicholson. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
- John Rothenstein (1984). Modern English Painters, Volume One: Sickert to Lowry. London; Sydney: Macdonald. ISBN 0-356-10353-6. Second revised edition; first published (1952) as Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, 2 vols. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. pp. 113–120.
- Alan Bowness (1967). William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Marlborough Fine Art.
- Sophie Bowness (2004). Nicholson, Sir William Newzam Prior (1872–1949). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online edition). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35233.
- Paola Watts (1983). William Nicholson: segno e immagine in un'ottica vittoriana (in Italian). Roma: Edizioni Quasar di Severino Tognon, for Soprintendenza per i Beni Artistici e Storici di Roma.
- Tim Hilton (1996). "The head of the family". The Independent, 21 January 1996.
- Historic England. "Old Manor House (1183551)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
- Marguerite Steen (1966). Looking Glass: An Autobiography by Marguerite Steen. London: Longmans. pp. 160–181.
- Colin Campbell (1990). The Beggarstaff Posters: The Work of James Pryde and William Nicholson. London: Barrie & Jenkins, ISBN 0712620796
- William Nicholson (1872 - 1949): London Types, 1897 at lissllewellyn.com, accessed 5 October 2020
- "Nicholson". Fake or Fortune?. Series 7. Episode 1. 12 August 2018. BBC Television. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
- "Philip Mould | Historical Portraits | Winston Churchill | Sir William Nicholson | Item Details". www.historicalportraits.com. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
- G. van Rossem (ed.), Sydney W. Fleming (trans.) (1928). The Ninth Olympiad: Being the Official Report of the Olympic Games of 1928 Celebrated at Amsterdam. Amsterdam: J. H. de Bussy, p. 898. Accessed April 2013. (warning: large file)
- Supplement to The London Gazette. 34296:3996. Accessed March 2012.
- [s.n.] (1903). The Works of William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Stafford Gallery.
- Octave Uzanne (1905). Exposition des oeuvres de William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. Paris: Galeries Barbazanges.
- [s.n.] (1910). Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson: Rottingdean Landscapes and Other Subjects, exhibition catalogue. London: Chenil Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1911). Oil Paintings by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Goupil Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1918). Still-life etc. by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Goupil Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1927). Pictures and Drawings by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Beaux Arts Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1933). Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Beaux Arts Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1934). Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Prints by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. Belfast: City of Belfast Museum and Art Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1934). Recent Paintings by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Leicester Galleries.
- [s.n.] (1936). An Exhibition of Paintings by William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Leicester Galleries.
- [s.n.] (1938). An Exhibition of Paintings by Sir William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Leicester Galleries.
- Sir Kenneth Clark (1942). Exhibition of Paintings by Sir William Nicholson and Jack B. Yeats, exhibition catalogue. London: National Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1945). Paintings by Sir William Nicholson, exhibition catalogue. London: Roland, Browse and Delbanco.
- [s.n.] (1947). Sir William Nicholson: Paintings, Woodcuts and Lithographs, exhibition catalogue. London: Arts Council of Great Britain.
- [s.n.] (1967). Sir William Nicholson: Prints and Drawings, exhibition catalogue. London: Folio Society.
- [s.n.] (1972). William Nicholson, 1872–1949: centenary exhibition, exhibition catalogue. London: Roland, Browse and Delbanco.
- Duncan Robinson (1980). William Nicholson: Paintings, Drawings and Prints, exhibition catalogue. [London]: Arts Council of Great Britain. ISBN 0728702452.
- Elizabeth Cayzer (1981). William Nicholson: Woodcuts and Lithographs, exhibition catalogue. London: Maclean Gallery.
- [s.n.] (1990). William Nicholson, 1872–1949, exhibition catalogue. London: Browse & Darby.
- Hilary Lane, Penny Johnson (1995). William Nicholson: Landscape and Still-life, exhibition catalogue. Eastbourne: Towner Art Gallery. ISBN 1871360080.
- Carola Kleinstück-Schulman, Hermann Kleinstück, Klaus G. Gerhardt (1998). William Nicholson, das graphische Werk: 1895–1905, exhibition catalogue. Darmstadt: Justus von Liebig.
- Andrew Graham-Dixon (29 September 2004). 'William Nicholson by Augustus John' Sunday Telegraph, "In The Picture".
- Helena Moore, Hugh Casson (introduction) (1988). 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, exhibition catalogue. York: York City Art Gallery. ISBN 9780903281065.