Archibald Nicoll

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1886, d.1953

Street in old Cairo

  • 1915
  • Watercolour
  • Gift of Mr W S Wauchop, April 1969
  • 218 x 288mm
  • 69/56

This work was completed when Archibald Nicoll was serving with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1915. He spent nine months in Egypt and often sketched and painted when on leave. He completed several studies of Cairo street scenes. Probably completed out of doors, this work displays Nicoll’s technical ability with watercolour. He has effectively used layered washes to build up the forms of the buildings and street. Nicoll is most well known for his work in oil, and this often overshadows his skill as a watercolourist. Born in Lincoln, Christchurch, Nicoll began evening classes at the Canterbury College School of Art in 1905, while working for the Union Steamship Company Office. By 1908 he was an assistant art master at the Elam School of Art and Design in Auckland. He later studied in London and Edinburgh. Following war service, in 1919 Nicoll was appointed Director of the Canterbury College School of Art. In 1947 he was awarded an OBE for services to art.

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Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • On the outbreak of war in 1914 Canterbury born artist Archibald Nicoll, who had spent the previous three years studying and teaching in Edinburgh, returned home to join the New Zealand Expeditionary Force as a field gunner. During 1915 he served in Egypt and was able to devote some of his spare time to sketching and painting works like this watercolour study of a back street in Cairo.

    The following year he was sent to France. At the Battle of the Somme he was wounded and eventually invalided out of the army. Nicoll’s reputation as an artist in Canterbury grew immensely after his return from World War I and it is the works of these years that he painted in oil that often overshadowed his skill as a watercolourist.