JOHN NIXON (c.1755-1818)

A City Merchant, Nixon made watercolours that were much admired, and engraved, for their wit and acute observation of Georgian Life. Famously sociable (he was Secretary of the Society of Beefsteaks) he was a member of the Margravine of Anspach’s theatrical Group and his drawings often reflect his interest in art and the theatre (Cf. Nos. 1-5). But his favourite subjects were ‘the everyday’ and his haunts the Guildhall Court, where he was a Special Juryman, and fashionable South Coast resorts.

Nixon travelled widely with his brother and friends (e.g. Rowlandson); to Ireland regularly, and in 1783 and 1784 to France and the Low Countries (Cf. Nos.7-9). He visited France again in 1802, during the Peace of Amiens (Cf. No.5) and in 1814 (Cf. Nos. 1 and 3). He took with him his keen, very British ‘eye’ and sense of the absurd. But as Huon Mallalieu writes …

‘His caricatures are seldom vicious, and indeed they often show a great tenderness for the subject, whether it be a beggar or cripple, or an over-blown society lady…’