William Nicholson

William Nicholson (British) 1781-1844
The Stone Bridge
, watercolor, signed l/r,
9.75″ x 13.75″ unframed

A stone bridge crossing a stream and small island with a large tree.
Click to enlarge.
A stone bridge crossing a stream and small island with a large tree.
Click to enlarge.

Estimate: $500. Offers invited.

Please email an offer to purchase or a request for more information to thistlefineart.info@gmail.com.

This watercolor is in excellent condition; laid down on card. Acquired in 2005 in a mat and frame that wasn’t worth retaining. The image above is the watercolor in that original mat. Signed W. Nicholson in printed letters, this watercolor is attributed after extensive research eliminated other artists with the same name.

William Nicholson 1781-1844 is remembered as the painter of imminent Scots of the 19th Century. He was born in Ovingham-on-Tyne, Northumberland, on Christmas Day 1781. His father was appointed Headmaster of the Newcastle Grammar School and later the family moved to Hull while William was still quite young. It was there he made his artistic debut, painting miniatures of officers in the local garrison. He was almost entirely self-taught, learning his craft through the close study of artworks in private and public galleries.

Nicholson subsequently returned to Newcastle where he received many commissions for portraits of the notable families of Northumberland. In 1808, he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, continuing to do so until 1822. By 1814, Nicholson, whose mother was a Scot, had moved to Edinburgh where he set up as a miniaturist and painter in oils. He soon began to specialize in watercolour portraits and his early subjects included the actor Daniel Terry and poet/novelist James Hogg. In 1818 he began to publish a series, Portraits of Eminent Scotsmen, etched from his own portraits and those of other painters. Besides Scott and Hogg, the subjects included the writers Robert Burns, John Wilson (‘Christopher North’), and Lord Jeffrey, the painters Sir Henry Raeburn, the divines Alexander Carlyle and Alexander Cameron, the engineer James Watt, the architect John Playfair, and the song-collector and composer George Thomson.

In 1821 Nicholson married Maria Lamb of Edinburgh and in the same year contributed to the first modern exhibition of the Institution for the Encouragement of the Arts in Scotland. He was among the most active founding members of the Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in 1826, and at its first meeting he was elected secretary, a position he held until 1830. He contributed to each of the Academy’s Exhibitions until his death by fever in 1844. Although his reputation was made by the portraits he painted of important personages, the latter years of his life was devoted to genre, landscape, and coastal subjects.

An early portrait, probably from his Hull period.
Self portrait of the artist.


Images often do not adequately represent quality or condition. Reflections off glass or varnished surfaces sometimes alter color and clarity. All listings are fully guaranteed to be as described, however, and may be returned for a full refund (for any reason) within 30 days of purchase.

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