Spencer Baird Nichols (1875-1950)
Where: Cornwall Bridge
Nichols was a portrait painter, illustrator, and muralist born in Washington, D.C. Nichols attended the Corcoran School of Art. He also took classes at the Art Students League, and later became an instructor there. By 1911 Nichols had moved to New York, where he was creating illustrations for the Frederick A. Stokes & Co. publishing house and designing stained glass windows for the Louis Comfort Tiffany studios.
After Nichols’ son died of typhoid in 1922, the family moved to Kent. The following year, with eight other artists that Nichols knew, he established the Kent Art Association. The same year Nichols was elected to the National Academy of Design and in 1932 he was elected a full Academician.
Between being elected to the Academy and becoming an Academician, Nichols directed a summer school at Cornwall Bridge. It is not known exactly how long the school operated, but it was open at least during the summers of 1930 and 1931.
In 1932 Nichols’ home in Kent burned down. Though his artist friends raised funds to have it rebuilt, much of Nichols’ art was lost. Due to the resulting financial duress, he took a position as Director of Art at Marot Junior College in Thompson, Connecticut. Nichols also worked for the Connecticut Works Project Administration, completing 33 paintings in buildings throughout Connecticut. Nichols died in Kent.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia, titled “Spencer Baird Nichols photographed by brother Hobart Nichols, 1899”