Edgar Irving Nicholson was born and educated in Johannesburg. After completing his schooling he enrolled at the University of Witwatersrand to study architecture but after the first year he joined the South African Air Force where he spent the next 5 and a half years. While on active duty in the North as a navigator flying Liberators, he was shot down over Rumania and taken as a prisoner of war. It was during the war that he discovered his love of painting.
After the war, he decided not to continue with architecture, but to pursue his love of art. He won a scholarship to the Beckenham School of Art where he studied painting and design under Thomas Freeth ARCA and was influenced by the French School and in particular Pierre Bonnard.
He qualified from the Beckenham School of Art with a British National Diploma in Painting and Design and then undertook Post Graduate studies at Royal College of Art in London where he won entry in an open competition where only 27 qualified out of 270 entrants. He was the first South African to exhibit a winning entry in open competition.
For many years he was the Head of Graphic Design at the Johannesburg Art School, and subsequently the Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design and Painting at the Port Elizabeth College of Advance Education. In 1986 he retired to Cape Town.
→ Exhibition celebrates artist's work, Easter Courier, 10-09-2003