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4. The Lithograph

5. An Unkind History

6. The Nicholson Group

7. Acknowledgements

8. Gallery 1

9. Gallery 2

10. Gallery 3

11. Links

Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844)


The Nicholson Group



The Nicholson Group was set up in Pickering to revive the very faded memory of Francis Nicholson. There appears to have been no outside inspiration whatsoever, the group being driven entirely by the determination of individual members to find out more than was generally known. These members are Professor Gordon Bell, Judy Dixon, Colin Coulson, and genealogist, Alan Hinton. The group operated as an independent body continuously from April, 2010 until late in 2012.


During that time, they produced three ground-breaking books, four exhibitions, national coverage through Heritage Journal, Heritage Trust and the Yorkshire Post, a plaque which guarantees Nicholson a permanent place on the Pickering landscape, and a general revival of local interest in him through talks to various groups and via the local press. Plus, of course, this web-site. By the end of 2016, a comprehensive genealogical study of Nicholson's family will be placed in some forty County Records Offices and Archives throughout the U.K., including the British Museum.



Publications :


Francis Nicholson of Pickering. Father of English Water-colour, by Colin Coulson was published by the Nicholson Group in September, 2010, priced £3.50. Printing was partly sponsored by Ryedale District Council.


Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844) Painter, Printmaker and Drawing Master, ed. Gordon Bell with contributions from Colin Coulson, Judy Dixon and Alan Hinton was published by Blackthorn Press in March 2012, priced £9.95 (ISBN 978 1 906259 31 0). Colour production was sponsored by W. W. Spooner Charitable Trust.


Francis Nicholson : Lithographs and Engravings of Georgian Britain, by Gordon Bell was published by Blackthorn Press in October, 2012, priced £19.95 (ISBN 978 1 906259 32 7)


Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844) Yorkshire Artist. A Chronicle of his Extended Family over Three Centuries, by Alan Hinton. Completion is hoped for towards the end of 2016. It is to be privately printed and will not be on sale to the public. A list of the U.K. records offices and archives where it may be seen will be available upon request.




photo of The Nicholson Group

The Nicholson Group

Gordon Bell, Judy Dixon, Alan Hinton, Colin Coulson

Exhibitions :


Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844) Painter, Printmaker and Drawing Master, curated by Professor Gordon Bell. It ran from March 21st. to May 20th, 2012, at the impressive new gallery of Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole. The exhibition was supported by W. W. Spooner Charitable Trust, and was officially opened by Michael Broughton, the Trust's Chairman.


Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844) Painter, Printmaker and Drawing Master, curated by Professor Gordon Bell, was originally earmarked to run from 20th. October to 25th. November, 2012, at Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby. However, it proved so successful that it was extended to 2nd December. The official opening was by Whitby Town Mayor, Councillor John Freeman.


Georgian Yorkshire : Francis Nicholson and the Lure of the Picturesque, curated by Professor Gordon Bell ran at the North York Moors National Park Centre, Danby-in-Cleveland from May 17th until June 15th, 2014. The exhibition included a lecture by Professor Bell, a guided tour, and a guest appearance by harpist, Elisabeth Westhead.

Professor Gordon Bell and harpist, Elisabeth Westhead chat to guests at Danby

Framing the View. Francis Nicholson, The Killerton Drawing Master, curated by Professor Gordon Bell ran at Killerton House, Devon, which is currently in the hands of The National Trust, from May 16th to September 15th, 2015.


The exhibition - the first historical art exhibition there - featured the work of Francis Nicholson and of his favourite pupil, the Hon. Mrs. Henrietta Anne Fortescue, who lived at Killerton House, 1785 - 1841. Nicholson dedicated his book (1820) to Mrs. Fortescue and to her ancestral family, the Hoares, of Stourhead, Wiltshire.


A portrait of Mrs. Fortescue can be seen at :



The Francis Nicholson Plaque.



Pickering & District Civic Society has raised a commemorative plaque in Hungate, Pickering, close to the house in which Nicholson was born. It was unveiled on 22nd. October, 2012 by Pickering Town Mayor, Councillor William Oxley.

Pickering Town Mayor, Councillor Will Oxley at the unveiling of the plaque.

The Beck Isle Museum Information Board.




In April, 2014, Beck Isle Museum replaced its Francis Nicholson display cabinet with a new information board. This is a vast improvement, because painting is essentially a two dimensional medium, and it was felt that a three dimensional cabinet was not the best accommodation for it. The board, by Dick Raines Design of York, is bright, attractive and well constructed. It was sponsored by Pickering & District Civic Society.