Sir William Nicholson 1872-1949

Artist biography

Sir William NICHOLSON 1872–1949

Painter of still life, landscape and portraits, engraver and theatre designer. Born 5 February 1872 at Newark-on-Trent. Educated at Magnus School, Newark, where he was taught drawing by a pupil of Sir William Beechey. Studied at Herkomer's School at Bushey 1888–9, meeting James Pryde, and at the Académie Julian in Paris 1889–90. Married Pryde's sister Mabel, also a painter, 1893; for their son Ben Nicholson see above. With James Pryde designed posters under the name of ‘J. & W. Beggarstaff’ 1893-c. 1899; made colour woodcuts for Heinemann's 1896–1900. Visited America 1901 and 1921, India 1915–16, South Africa 1931, and Europe frequently. Designed sets for Peter Pan 1904 and for other plays. Foundation member of the Society of Twelve 1904. Exhibited at the International Society from 1898, member 1906; foundation member of the National Portrait Society 1911. First one-man exhibition at the Paterson Gallery 1906. Retrospective exhibitions at Nottingham and the Beaux Arts Gallery 1933, Belfast 1934, and the National Gallery 1942. Trustee of the Tate Gallery 1934–9. Knighted 1936. Died 16 May 1949 at Blewbury, Berkshire.

Lit: Marguerite Steen, William Nicholson, 1943; Robert Nichols, William Nicholson, 1948; Lillian Browse, William Nicholson, 1956.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II