Joseph Nicholls (fl. c. 1730)
Joseph Nicholls, sometimes recorded as Nichols or Nickols, was one of the best of the English comparatively obscure painters of eighteenth century London views.
His pictures show a good topographical ability and feeling of atmosphere for the Thames. Grant writes of him that “…there is a delicacy and finesse in his work, unusual in this type…he displayed a capacity also for foliage and scenery.”
There is comparatively little known about Nicholls. He was from Bengeo in Hertfordshire, the son of a husbandman, and is believed to have been apprenticed to the Painter-Stainer Thomas Batten on 5th August 1713. He was certainly painting London views by 1738 as two of his paintings - “Stocks Market” and “Fountain in the Temple” – were engraved in that year. There are a pair of views of Twickenham in the Mellon Collection at Yale, one showing Pope’s Villa and the other Orlean’s House, one of which is dated 1726, but which was probably painted after 1755. Another painting, “View of the Thames”, is dated 1748 but these signed and dated works are scarce. Other examples of his work include “The Thames at Lambeth Palace” and “Charing Cross with the Statue of King Charles I and Northumberland House”.
Nicholls also worked as an illustrator and these engravings can be seen in Captain Johnson’s “Famous Highwaymen, Murderers, etc” published in 1734. There is also an oil painting depicting a capriccio Italian scene which has his signature on it which was probably a commission work in England done from another painting(s) or engraving(s).
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