William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)

Lord Roberts, circa 1902

SKU: 1055
Inscribed on the stone, upper left, ‘William Nicholson’ and beneath, ‘Lord Roberts’
Chromolithograph after the original woodcut, 10 3/4 x 10 in. (27.7 x 25.6 cm.)

Height – 27.7cm x Width – 25.6cm


The William Heinemann Archive 2004

Published by William Heinemann, March 1903

Provenance: The William Heinemann Archive 2004

The Twelve Portraits series
was published in September 1899 in two editions: a portfolio of
hand-coloured woodcuts and a portfolio of lithographic reproductions
mounted ready for framing. The majority of the prints had initially
been conceived as individual works, and it was expedience alone that
brought them together in a set; but the series in its published form is
not without homogeneity. Certainly it fulfilled its aim of portraying a
representative selection of the most notable men and women of the day.
`A few years hence,’ claimed a reviewer in the 9 December 1899 issue of
Literature, `Mr Nicholson’s portfolio of Twelve Portraits … will be of undoubted historical value.’ Perhaps this was going too far, but mans- critics believed that Twelve Portraits contained Nicholson’s best work, and indeed it was this series that was to earn the artist a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900.

Early in 1901 a second series of 12 portraits was proposed. Heinemann
sent Nicholson a list of suggested sitters in July, but work on the
project proceeded very slowly and it was not until the summer of 1902
that the portraits were finally delivered. Nicholson, always ready to
re-use existing material, commandeered his Lord Kitchener (1898) and
William 11 (1899) for this series (the latter was published in a
slightly revised form), and also made use of studies of Thomas Edison,
Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain made in New York in the autumn of
1900. The remaining seven portraits were conceived and executed in
1901/2: Queen Alexandra, Joseph Chamberlain (Colonial Secretary
at the time of the Boer War), Li-Hung Chang (the Chinese statesman),
Henrik Ibsen (whose plays Heinemann published in English translations),
Sada Yacco (the Japanese actress who modelled for Rodin), Eleonora
Dose (the great Italian tragedienne), and Pope Leo XIII.

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William Nicholson
1872 - 1949

Sir William Nicholson (1872 – 1949) was an English painter, also known for his work as an illustrator and author of children’s books.
He was the son of William Newzam Nicholson, an industrialist and Conservative MP of Newark, and Annie Elizabeth, the daughter of Joseph Prior and Elizabeth (nee Mallam) of Woodstock, Oxon.
He was a student at Hubert von Herkomer’s art school. Nicholson’s partnership with James Pryde, his brother-in-law, was conspicuous for striking graphical work and woodcuts – they were known as the Beggarstaff Brothers, and their poster work was significant historically. He married Mabel Pryde (1871-1918), also an artist, in 1893.
After 1900 he concentrated on painting, encouraged by Whistler.
He was knighted in 1936. Ben Nicholson and Nancy Nicholson were his children; as was the architect Christopher ‘Kit’ Nicholson.
He was involved in illustrating early volumes from Robert Graves, with Nancy, who was Graves’ first wife. He wrote and illustrated characteristic children’s books: The Velveteen Rabbit (1922) by Margery Williams and his own Clever Bill (1926) and The Pirate Twins (1929) for Faber & Faber.
He also designed stained glass, notably a memorial window at St Andrew’s Church, Mells.


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
Li Hung Chang


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
Lord Kitchener, circa 1900


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
Dr Temple, The Archbishop of Canterbury, c.1898


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
Henrik Ibsen, circa 1898


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
Sir Henry Hawkins, 1899


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
President McKinley, 1901


William Nicholson (1872 - 1949)
Lord Roberts on Horseback, circa 1900