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John Hobson Nicholson

Epithet: Artist and designer of Manx postage and revenue stamps, currency notes and gold coinage (1911-1988)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: John Hobson Nicholson was the son of Frank Nicholson, a house painter and decorator, and the grandson of the Manx artist, John Miller Nicholson. He was educated at Douglas High School, from there entering the family painting and decorating firm as an interior decorator.

Although self-taught J.H. Nicholson went onto establish himself over the next fifty years as one of the most successful Manx painters. He exhibited regularly both on and off the Island, was elected to membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and the Pastel Society, taught at the Douglas School of Art and worked prolifically as a commercial artist. Nicholson was also a leading member of the Isle of Man Art Society and its President until his death in 1988.

His studio on Well Road Hill (part of the area cleared for the Chester Street Car Park redevelopment) and his gallery in Strand Street, Douglas, were well-known landmarks for the Manx artistic community.

Nicholson produced a wide variety of work, from landscapes and coastal scenes to maritime subjects in oils, watercolours and pastels. Although he is best-known for his watercolours of the Island, Nicholson also painted in Scotland, Norway, Venice and Hamburg.

His work was universally familiar to people on and off the Island owing to the fact he designed Manx stamps, coins and banknotes for the Isle of Man Government from 1958. Following the introduction of decimal currency in 1969 Nicholson sought a more inspirational design for the new banknotes. He combined Manx scenes with Celtic borders derived from the historic collection of Manx crosses.

Following in the tradition of his grandfather, John Miller Nicholson, he also produced illuminated addresses; three were presented to George V. An early example of this type of work is the illuminated vellum bound Roll of Honour, listing all the Members of the House of Keys from 1417 to 1933, for which Nicholson produced the frontispiece showing Tynwald Hill.

Occupation / profession: artist

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1911-04-23

Place of birth: Douglas, Isle of Man

Date of death: 1988-02-09

Place of death: Douglas, Isle of Man


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