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An unknown Noble Lady


Artist: James Nixon

Wearing a white dress underneath a gold striped transparent veil and pink shawl, a rope of pearls and pink flowers entwined in her upswept hair
signed with N on the obverse, set in the original frame with brooch clasp attachment on the reverse

Nixon studied at the Royal Academy Schools from March 1769.[1] He first exhibited with the Society of Artists (1765–1771), and from 1772 to 1805 was an annual contributor to the Royal Academy.[2]

Nixon was a leading miniaturist of his time, and held the appointments of limner to the Prince of Wales and miniature-painter to the Duchess of York; in 1778 he was elected Associate of the Royal Academy. He resided in London for most of his professional career, but spent periods in Edinburgh and Newcastle.[1]

Nixon married Frances Elizabeth Carrington (1752–1823), daughter of the Reverend James Carrington, chancellor of the diocese of Exeter, in Devon on 30 October 1777.[1] Around 1780 they had a son, James, and may have had other children. Nixon died in Tiverton on 9 May 1812, aged 71.[2]

He was greatly attached to the Royal Academy, and, being influenced by Sir Joshua Reynolds, he exhibited a portrait of Reynolds there in 1779. The twisted pose to the right with eyes looking to the right, as opposed to a frontal stance, was derived from Reynolds portraits of ladies, circa 1750/60. And although he is best known as a miniature painter, he also painted portraits in oil and watercolour, and also of historical subjects. Despite Nixon's patronage and talent for painting miniatures his life appeared to blotted by financial debt. Farington wrote in his diary for 18 April 1802, 'Nixon has not got a shilling by his profession in the last 7 months'.
More Information
Year                 Circa 1765
Medium                 Watercolour on ivory
Signed                 signed with N on the obverse,
Literature                 1. 'Nixon, James'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press.
2. Lee, Sidney, ed. (1895). 'Nixon, James'. Dictionary of National Biography. 41. London: Smith, Elder & Co
Farington, Diary Graves, Artists E
Exhibition                 Comerford Collection at the Irish Architectural Archives in Dublin, in 2009
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