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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John P. Nicholas

Names:
Other: J. Nicholas & Co. 
Other: John Nicholas 
Other: Nicholas & Co. 
Other: Nicholas and Co. 
Other: Nicholas Bros. & Co. 
Joint: Nicholas and Curths 
Joint: Nicholas Brothers 
Active:  India
 
  
Nothing is known of John P. Nicholas‘s early years. In 1858 his photographs were shown at an exhibition of work of the Madras Photography Society and much later in 1884 at the Calcutta International Exhibition. His Madras Studio opened around 1861 and was still in business as late as 1905 even though Nicholas probably left India sometime in the 1890s. There is a record of a London, England branch in 1866 although this was only for a short period of time. Possibly he had traveled to England for a short while and then later decided to return to India. Two years later he opened a studio in Ootacamund and partnered with H.V. Curths sometime in 1869 and continued during the 1870s as Nicholas and Curths. In 1881 they published a ‘Catalogue of Photographic Views, Chemicals. Etc.’
 
In a footnote to John Falconer‘s 1984 article "Ethnographical Photography in India 1850-1900" (Photographic Collector 5(1):16-46) he gives the following additional information:
 
"John P. Nicholas was in business from c. 1858 and in partnership with H.V. Curths from c. 1869-c. 73. The firm of Nicholas and Co. continued until around 1905, although Nicholas appears to have left Madras in about 1895 (Madras Asylum almanacs)."

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

 
Commercial, India
Founder of the most important firm in southern India. Contributed photographs to Madras exhibitions from 1858 and ran a studio in Madras from 1861. This continued in existence until at least 1905, although Nicholas himself left probably in the mid-1890s. Ootacamund branch opened in 1868, and for a period from c. 1869 through the 1870s the firm was run as Nicholas and Curths (partner H.V. Curths). A London branch at 90 Westbourne Grove, was briefly maintained in 1866. A member of the family briefly opened a studio in Mackay, Australia, placing the following advertisement in the Mackay Mercury (8 October 1879):
‘Mr Nicholas, (late of Messrs. Nicholas and Co., Madras) Begs to notify his arrival in Mackay, where he intends to open a photographic studio for a short time in Sydney Street. He has secured the office of the Mount Orange Copper Mining Company, and will be prepared in a day or two to take portraits in the best style, in several varieties, including carte de visite, cabinet, and the new Academy portrait. Mr Nicholas will have on exhibition numerous views of Madras and Southern India, as well as a series of photos representing the effects of the late famine in S. India, all well worthy of inspection. October 7th, 1879.’
Nicholas and Curths, 155 Mount Road, Madras, 1869 (Asylum).
Nicholas and Curths, 155 Mount Road, Madras, 1873 (Asylum).
Nicholas and Curths, Infantry Lines, Bangalore, 1873 (Asylum).
Nicholas and Curths, Ootacamund, 1873 (Asylum).
 
Nicholas’ photographs of the Bishop of Madras, Mr Cherry, Captain Nicholas and Christchurch mentioned in The Madras Journal of Literature and Science.[1]
 
At the 1858 exhibition of the Madras Photographic Society Nicholas exhibited portraits of Lord Harris and Captain Russell: ‘…Some portraits of religious mendicants were also exhibted by Mr Nicholas. These were executed with the assistance of Mr Underwood. They are curious in their way, and the selection of subjects were excellent. One party had a wire passed through his cheeks. Two others had large square iron frames riveted to their necks. The pictures are well executed, and copies are for sale at Mr Nicholas’ studio.’[2]
 
At the 1860 exhibition of the Madras Photographic Society ‘Mr Nicholas exhibited 23 stereograms chiefly views about Madras. These are well focussed, clearly printed and the subjects of many of them picturesquely selected. The collodion negatives from which these were printed, were all taken by the Fothergill dry process. The best subjects were the Cornwallis Statue, St Mary’s Church, the Cathedral, the Vepery Church, and two Mahomedan tombs in Triplicane. the view of Madras from the top of the lighthouse and of Messrs Arbuthnot and Co.’s offices on the beach were also considered good. 2nd prize.’ (Madras journal of literature and science, no.11, new series, May 1861, pp.195-6). 
  
 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Madras Journal of Literature and Science, Apr-Sep 1858, p. 164. 
      
  2. Λ Madras Journal of Literature and Science, 1858-59, p. 173. 
      
 
  

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