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Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844)


An Unkind History




Francis Nicholson died a wealthy man, aged 90 on 6th. March, 1844. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. Today, his work may be seen in famous museums and galleries around the world. Perhaps his highest recommendation is that J.M.W. Turner once described him as "my model" and admitted to having "imitated" Nicholson before he developed a style of his own. Even quite late in life, Turner would sometimes paint a scene from a viewpoint only a few yards from that previously adopted by Nicholson, though by then, of course, their styles were very different.


Nicholson was very highly thought of in his day. He was one of the most fashionable and sought after drawing masters in London. Some of the capital's most fashionable magazines carried articles about his achievements. Other top artists of the day honoured and respected him. He was, after all the man who had made the breakthrough, the man who had ushered us from the period of stained drawings and into the age of water-colour painting. He had broken the mould, and all of them owed him that. They acknowledged it, too.


It is later commentators who have forgotten the great service Nicholson did to British art.