Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Lillie May Nicholson
I had a bit of luck in St. Albans' only second hand book store, The Eloquent Page. I was for once without a book when I found I had to wait a long time in the city. So, for $6 I bought Lillie May Nicholson 1884-1964: An Artist Rediscovered, by Walter A. Nelson-Rees.
And, as I came to write this, I looked for a decent link to her bio or work. No luck. It seems her paintings sell well, and galleries and collectors are looking for them. But there's no in-depth bio, at least in the first five pages of Google. I finally found a gallery (Trotter Galleries) with a decent number of thumbnails and a short bio. The image here of "Fishermen at Pier" is from their site.
Nicholson's work is strong and almost entirely of California coastal scenes, both of the water and of people and workers near the water. Many boats, much light and water. She also looked at the social ills in Oakland and in 1943, at the age of 59 became an aircraft mechanic. After the war she never took up art again.
I am fascinated by these paintings because of the incredibly strong, even harsh, brush strokes in many of them. I'd love to see one in the flesh. The paintings are small, the largest one I came across in the Catalog at the back of the book was 16" x 20".
The catalogue lists 335 works, a large number of which are owned by the book's author. On January 25 of this year, one of her paintings realized nearly $6,000 at auction.