Lynsey Clague is Communications Manager at Manx National Heritage. She is also well known for her work at Glen Truan in the North of the Isle of Man.
‘Summer Afternoon on Douglas Promenade’ has to be one of my favorite paintings of the island. It’s creator, John Miller Nicholson captured a magical moment in time – the warmth of a summer’s afternoon, the double track horse trams and holiday makers walking up and down the seafront back in 1888.
The painting shows Douglas Promenade from the former location of the Rendevouz Cafe, on the corner of Castle Street and Church Road in Douglas, and looks along Harris Promenade and Loch Promenades towards the Jubilee Clock.
In the background a large plume of smoke is visible from an Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessel about to depart for Liverpool.
This beautiful view can still be enjoyed to this day, although if you’d like to admire the original oil on canvas, call into the National Art Gallery at the Manx Museum. High quality framed prints are available to order by searching ‘Summer Afternoon’ on www.imuseum.im.
Nicholson was a man of many talents, who produced a wealth of art during his career. He recorded and captured the world and people around him, capturing moments in time, industry, innovation and progress – something I particularly admire.
His early water colours were almost photographic representations of the Isle of Man he saw in the 1870s. Rather than scenic or timeless views of the Manx countryside, Nicholson recorded the detail of daily life from boats loading and unloading on the South Quay by the Douglas town gasworks to tourists in rowing boats and swimming by Douglas Head lighthouse.
Following a trip to Venice in 1882, Nicholson’s artwork became more impressionistic. Instead of trying to record every last detail of a scene, Nicholson wanted to capture the ever changing light and a fleeting moment in time.
He was the son of a painter and decorator, following his father into the family firm – an occupation he followed until his death in 1913. Following early encouragement from his mother, he also pursued his lifelong love of art.
“…the success he achieved in dealing with colour…accurate in drawing and in the weights of colour; full of a knowledge of light…His skill with pigments was perfect; no modern painter has it in an equal degree…” Archibald Knox (1913).
Take a moment out of your day to visit the paintings in the National Art Collection at the Manx Museum. It’s free to visit and offers a peaceful escape to admire and love art.