The Governor’s House, Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

Andrew Nicholl (1804 - 1886)

Pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of body colour on paper

1846-1849

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© Christie's Images Limited [2009] (photograph)

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  • About the work

    Cows bask in the sun in the foreground of this view of the Governor's House in Colombo. The image is thought to represent the former house of Dutch Official, Captain Sluyskens, built in 1684. It later became the house of Frederick North, the first British Governor of Ceylon.

    Andrew Nicholl travelled to Ceylon in 1846 to teach at Colombo Academy. While there, Colonial Secretary Emerson Tennent (1804-1869) commissioned him to illustrate his book ‘Ceylon: An Account of the Island, Physical, Historical and Topograhpical’, later published in two volumes in October 1859. They travelled to Kandy together in 1848 and Nicholl described the trip in an article in ‘Dublin University Magazine’ (1852). Several of Nicholl’s Ceylon drawings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1849 and Queen Victoria purchased two in 1870. Nicholl also presented a volume of his Ceylon drawings to the British Museum in 1883.

    This watercolour was purchased in 2009 from the sale of the collection of scholar and curator Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin.

  • About the artist
    Andrew Nicholl was born in Belfast, the son of a shoemaker. At 18, he was apprenticed to journalist Francis Dalzell Finlay. In 1828, he made 101 watercolours of the Antrim coast. He moved to London in 1830, regularly returning to Ireland. Nicholl travelled to Ceylon in 1846 to teach at Colombo Academy. While there, Colonial Secretary Emerson Tennent commissioned him to illustrate his book ‘Ceylon’ (1859). They travelled to Kandy together in 1848 and Nicholl described the trip in an article in ‘Dublin University Magazine’ (1852). Several Ceylon drawings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1849 and Queen Victoria purchased two in 1870. Nicholl also presented a volume of them to the British Museum in 1883. He died in Camberwell, aged 82.
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  • Details
    Title
    The Governor’s House, Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
    Date
    1846-1849
    Medium
    Pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of body colour on paper
    Dimensions
    height: 30.00 cm, width: 45.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Christie's, 7 May 2009 (lot 189)
    Provenance
    Probably collection of Bruce Chatwin; collection of Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight, of Glin of Glin Castle in c1970s; sold through Christie's 'Glin Castle' sale, on 7 May 2009 (Lot 189); from which sale purchased by the Government Art Collection
    GAC number
    18263