Andrew Nicholl
Irish Watercolour Artist, Sketcher. Biography and Paintings.

Giants Causeway

Andrew Nicholl RHA (1804–1886)

The distinguished irish watercolourist and sketcher Andrew Nicholl was born in Belfast in 1804, the younger brother of painter William Nicholl (1794-1840). Unfortunately, details of Andrew's art education are sparse. Perhaps tutored in fine art by his brother, he painted a series of views of the Antrim coast. During his twenties Nicholl acquired a wealthy patron, Sir James Emerson Tennent, who financed a 2-year stay in London during the period 1830-1832. While in London, Nicholl made a close study of Old Masters in the Dulwich Art Gallery.

Poppies, Cornflowers and Daisies

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By the end of this period, he was already exhibiting at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in Dublin and at the Royal Academy (RA) in London. In due course, he was elected an associate of the RHA (1837) and finally a full member (1860).

Nicholl returned to Dublin in 1832, where his sketches and drawings appeared in the Dublin Penny Journal. In 1835, Nicholl was involved in the production of "Picturesque Sketches of Some of the Finest Landscape and Coast Scenery of Ireland." In 1840 he published twelve lithographs, entitled "The Northern Coast of Ireland."

Nicholl moved back to to London in 1840 and in 1846 traveled to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where Sir James Tennent, his Belfast patron, was the Colonial Secretary. Tennent secured Nicholl's appointment as teacher of landscape drawing, painting and design at the Colombo Academy. On his return from Ceylon, Nicholl went to Dublin, then to Belfast, where he taught drawing. In 1858 and 1870, Queen Victoria purchased several of his drawings. He died in London in 1886. His artwork is represented at the British Museum, which has several of his watercolours, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as major galleries and museums in Ireland.

The principal influence on Andrew Nicholl's painting methods was Joseph Mallord Turner (1775-1851), perhaps the greatest landscape artist ever. Nicholl typically utilized the technique of "sgraffito" (scraping) - to emphasise features such as reeds in the foreground of his pictures. Nicholl's particular speciality was the 'botanical landscape' combining both botanical and topographical features. According to the art historian Anne Crookshank, these landscapes are "the most haunting Irish paintings of the early nineteenth century."

Record Auction Price for Andrew Nicholl

The record for a work by Andrew Nicholl was set in 2001, when his painting entitled A View of Howth County Dublin, Through a Poppyfield, was sold at Sotheby's, London, for £25,800.

More Information About Visual Arts in Ireland

• For details of other painters and sculptors from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Paintings and Biographies.
• For more about watercolourists like Andrew Nicholl, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about watercolour painting, see: Homepage.

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