Painter of still life, landscape and portraits, engraver and theatre designer. William Nicholson was born on the 5th February 1872 at Newark-on-Trent and educated at Magnus School, Newark, where he was taught drawing by a pupil of Sir William Beechey. He studied at Herkomer's School at Bushey from 1888 to 1889, meeting James Pryde, and at the Académie Julian in Paris from 1889 to 1990. He married Pryde's sister Mabel, also a painter, in 1893 and together they had a son, Ben Nicholson, a famous artist in his own right. With James Pryde, Nicholson designed posters under the name of ‘J. & W. Beggarstaff’.
Nicholson exhibited at the International Society from 1898, becoming a member in 1906 and a foundation member of the National Portrait Society in 1911. His first one-man exhibition was at the Paterson Gallery in 1906. He had retrospective exhibitions at Nottingham and the Beaux Arts Gallery 1933, Belfast 1934, and the National Gallery 1942. He was a trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1934 to 1939. He was knighted in 1936 and died 16 May 1949 at Blewbury, Berkshire.