|George Washington Nicholson, Winter Morning, ca. 1880|
Born in New Jersey, Nicholson trained in Philadelphia, where he learned academic realism at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1866, he traveled to England and France for further training. Nicholson settled in Philadelphia upon his return to the United States, and his reputation was at its height from the mid-1880s through the 1890s. He painted a mural titled “The Old Homestead” that was on display at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia and another, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” for the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg (most likely lost when the building burned in 1897).
Nicholson produced works commissioned by patrons who preferred seascapes, exoticized landscapes of Europe and Northern Africa and scenes of daily life in the American countryside. This snowy country scene is an example of the latter. He painted several variations on the scene, usually featuring a house and human figures in bright clothing to draw the eye, but most of them are smaller than this one. Along with the recent purchase of Thomas Waterman Wood’s “The Kitten,” this painting helps us better tell the story of 19th-century American art by enriching our small collection of genre painting from the era.