Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844)


Early Years



Francis Nicholson was born in Hungate, Pickering, in North Yorkshire on November 14th., 1753. His father - also called Francis - was an Anglican weaver. His mother - born Mary Jackson - was a Quaker, though she would have been 'cast out' for marrying outside of the sect.


After a period of schooling, Francis was sent for a month's trial with an artist called Thomas Beckwith in York. But his father was dissatisfied with certain conditions laid out by Beckwith at the end of the trial period, and he was withdrawn. He was sent instead for a three-year training period with an un-named artist in Scarborough, and, for two short periods, with Conrad Martin Metz, a German artist living in London.

Site Map


1. Home

2. Early Years

3. London

4. The Lithograph

5. An Unkind History

6. The Nicholson Group

7. Acknowledgements

8. Gallery 1

9. Gallery 2

10. Gallery 3

11. Links

Hungate, in Pickering, today

photo of Hungate, Pickering, birthplace of francis nicholson  today

Upon completion of his training, Francis earned a living in Pickering painting portraits of local gentry, and of their favourite dogs, horses, and dead game. His biggest job locally was painting the ceiling of the summer house at Aislaby Hall for his friend, magistrate Thomas Hayes.


In 1783, he moved to Whitby, where he mostly painted scenes for the fashionable and prosperous Scarborough spa trade, and for two dealers in London. The following year, he married Sally Blanshard at St. Leonard's church, Malton. They had three children - Sophia (1785) Alfred (1787) and Mary Ann (1791)

photo of St. Leonard's church, Malton


It was whilst living at Whitby that Nicholson first had an oil painting accepted by the Royal Academy, the subject being A View of Castle Howard (1789). Circa 1790, Constantine John Phipps, Lord Mulgrave, commissioned him to paint Mulgrave Castle and the surrounding woods. But these were water-colours.


In 1792, the family moved to Knaresborough, and circa 1796, to Ripon. It was at Ripon that Francis made the breakthrough described on Page 1


Note : A View of Castle Howard may be seen at :



St. Leonard's, Malton.