Sir William Nicholson

James Ferrier Pryde, 1866 - 1941. Artist (Published 1897)

About this artwork

Pryde was born in Edinburgh and is probably best remembered today as one of the two 'Beggarstaff Brothers'. In the mid-1890s he and his brother-in-law William Nicholson (1872-1949) produced strikingly original designs for commercial and theatrical posters. Although these works were not a financial success, they had a profound influence on graphic art for several decades. In the early 1900s Pryde began to paint architectural fantasies, interiors and landscapes infused with a strange romantic melancholy. This portrait is part of a pair that Nicholson made as illustrations for a journal called ‘Figaro’, which reproduced the drawings alongside an article on the Beggerstaff Brothers.

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.