Sir William Nicholson

Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1860 - 1937. Author (1904)

About this artwork

The novelist and dramatist J.M.Barrie is best known as the creator of Peter Pan, 'the boy who never grew up'. This portrait was painted when the artist was working on the costumes for the first stage production of Peter Pan at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, in 1904. Barrie agreed to sit between rehearsals but said ' I have long ceased to be on speaking terms with my face, so why have it painted?' The composition, with the relatively small figure surrounded by empty space, hints at the essential loneliness of a man who always regretted leaving the world of childhood behind.

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Sir William Nicholson

Sir William Nicholson

William Nicholson was the son of a wealthy Nottinghamshire industrialist. He trained in London at Herkomer's School alongside the Scottish students, Mabel and James Pryde, in 1888-89. After a year in Paris at the Académie Julian, he and James Pryde, as the 'Beggarstaff Brothers', collaborated on well-known series of posters. Although influential, this work was not commercially successful. From around 1900, encouraged by Whistler, Nicholson turned to painting in oils and became a successful portrait painter. He married Mabel Pryde in 1893, their eldest son, Ben Nicholson, became one of the leading figures of modern British art.