Erskine Nicol

Erskine Nicol R.A., R.S.A. (Scottish) 1825–1904
Boat in a Backwater, watercolor, signed/inscribed, dated ’55 l/r, 12″ x 16″ sight; original frame

A rowboat in a marshy landscape.
Click to enlarge.
A rowboat in a marshy landscape.
Click to enlarge.

Estimate: $2,000. NFS.

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Excellent condition. This watercolor is in the original frame (under original glass). It was re-matted about forty-five years ago. When acquired, it had recently been removed from storage (a storage label was attached), probably accounting for the fresh color. Since re-matting, it has been hung away from strong light. The condition is pristine for a framed watercolor of this age. Signed and inscribed lower right James Milligan Esq. with Erskine Nicols compliments (abbreviated).

The Irish-Scots figure painter Erskine Nicol, was born in Leith, Scotland. After a short time as a house painters apprentice, he attended the Trustees’ Academy at 12 years of age, studying painting and drawing under Thomas Duncan and William Allen. A short appointment as an art teacher at a local Leith school was followed by a 4-year stint as an art master in Dublin. Nicol supplemented his teaching stipend by painting portraits. It was in Ireland that Erskine Nicol found his true style, executing figurative scenes, landscapes and genre studies of the Irish people. In addition, he was one of the few painters of his time to portray the horrors of famine, eviction and emigration in nineteenth-century Ireland.

Returning to Scotland in 1851, he showed a series of such paintings at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA). He became an RSA academician in 1859, then went to live in London in 1862 where, six years later, he was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy (RA). During this time, he returned regularly to Ireland to paint and exhibited his art several times at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA).

In 1885, he retired from the Royal Academy in London, and went to Scotland before finally settling in Feltham, London. Erskine’s two sons – John Watson Nicol and Erskine E Nicol – followed their father and became artists.

Erskine Nicol’s paintings are represented in a number of public and private collections, including the British Museum, Tate Art Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Aberdeen Art Gallery, Dundee Art Gallery, Glasgow Art Gallery, Ulster Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland, among others.

The auction record for a work by Erskine Nicol was set in 2007, when his marine painting entitled Salmon Fishing was sold at Sotheby’s, in London, for £48,000.

Biographic source –

An Irish painting in oil by Erskine Nicol:

Click to enlarge.


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