Folio (14 x 11 inches). 12 coloured lithographs after woodblocks, lithographed initials. Original red paper backed grey pictorial paper wrappers, illustrating the Bus Driver, tissue dust jacket (one or two chips).
Provenance: from the library of Jacques Levy, his sale, Sotheby's, 20th April 2012, lot 256
First French edition, limited issue, one of 40 copies on Japon, of a total edition of 640. First published in English using original hand-coloured woodblocks, loose in a portfolio. Nicholson’s distinctive style: “boldness of outline, simplicity of treatment, and striking silhouettes, and their flat, pure colours” (Bowness), was elegantly suited to the medium of woodcut, and grew from an original scheme of posters he designed with his brother James Pryde as J. & W. Beggarstaff. Nicholson was encouraged in his work by J. A. McNeill Whistler who recommended him to the publisher William Heinemann.
“The publications that followed established Nicholson's solo reputation. An Alphabet and An Almanac of Twelve Sports, with verses by Rudyard Kipling, both appeared in 1897 (title-pages postdated 1898), London Types, with verses by W. E. Henley, in 1898, and The Square Book of Animals in 1899. Nicholson also made a series of portrait woodcuts, the first of which was the irreverent, affectionate jubilee portrait of Queen Victoria (originally published in Henley's New Review in June 1897), which brought him great success. These were collected in the two series of Twelve Portraits (1899 and 1902), the first of which was awarded a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. The Heinemann windmill colophon still used today was designed by Nicholson at this time. Nicholson's singular achievement rests on three diverse strands of work: the pioneering and influential posters and woodcuts made when he was still in his twenties, the portraits of distinguished contemporaries, and the poetic landscapes and still-lifes. His best work has a subtlety, virtuosity, and individual voice that places it with the finest of its period” (Sophie Bowness for DNB). Catalogued by Kate Hunter