Henry Hobart Nichols (1869-1962)

Henry Hobart Nichols (1869-1962)

Born in Washington, DC, Henry Hobart Nichols hailed from a family of artists; his father Henry Hobart Nichols, Sr., was an engraver and his brother Spencer B. Nichols was an accomplished portraitist. Hobart, as he came to be known, studied at the Art Students League in Washington, DC, under Edmund Clarence Messer and Howard Helmick and continued his education abroad in Paris with Claudio Castelucho at the Académie Julian. Beginning in the 1890s, he worked as an illustrator for the U. S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of American Ethnology while continuing to refine his technique in his personal art and soon became a successful landscape painter.

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Nichols married fellow Washington, DC, artist Wilhelmina von Stosch in 1895 and the couple soon welcomed two daughters, Hildegarde and Leonora. In 1908, the family moved to New York City, before eventually settling near Lawrence Park in Bronxville a few years later. The pastoral region would come to inspire many of Nichols’ landscape paintings throughout his career, while its proximity to Manhattan, a mere fifteen miles south, helped him and other artists who had taken up residence maintain their strong ties to New York City’s arts community.

Nichols was an active member of the mid-Atlantic arts community, exhibiting with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery biennials in Washington, DC, and also took part in exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago. Of particular note is his deep involvement with the National Academy of Design, where he exhibited between 1902 and 1949, won awards in 1923, 1925, and 1934, and also regularly sat as a juror from 1914 until 1950. He was elected an Associate of the National Academy in 1912, attained full Academician status in 1920, and served as President of the Academy from 1939 until 1949, and President Emeritus until his passing in 1962. In addition to these organizations, Nichols was a member of the Society of Washington Artists, served as director of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation from 1939 to 1959, and was Assistant Director of the U. S. Art Commission at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

In 1940, the Corcoran Gallery held an exhibition of his paintings, drypoint etchings, and drawings, and today his works can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design Museum, and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.

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