Biography: John Miller Nicholson was the son of William Nicholson, a Douglas (Isle of Man) house painter. Educated at Douglas Grammar School, his natural artistic ability was recognised at an early age. Nicholson spent many years copying pictures, photographs and designs as a method for improving his art, producing as a result vast quantities of pencil sketches of Douglas. By the 1870s his labours were rewarded when his work was exhibited in London at the Royal Academy.
He also at this time came to the attention of John Ruskin, a leading champion of the Arts and Crafts movement. On Ruskin’s advice Nicholson travelled to Italy in 1882, bringing about a development in his style. Nicholson worked for a family firm of decorators, played the piccolo for a theatre orchestra and even painted theatrical scenery. His artwork included paintings, drawings, illuminated addresses and the murals of St Thomas’s Church, Douglas.