At the turn of the century, Bronxville was home to an art colony where many established artists lived and worked including, Will Hicok Low, Milne Ramsey, Walter Clark, George Henry Smillie, Bruce Crane, and Henry Hobart Nichols. Art historian William H. Gerdts noted that although the colony favored a “gentle, later Barbizon and Tonal mode… Henry Hobart Nichols… painted in a somewhat more vigorous style.” Exemplary of this is our painting On the Beach, which combines a soft palette with loose, expressive brushwork.
Nichols was an active member in the art community. He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1912 and honored with Academician in 1920. He served as president for the National Academy from 1939 to 1949, and president emeritus until his death. He was a fellow of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and member to numerous art organizations, including the Washington Society of Fine Art, New York Water Color Club, North Shore Art Association, Century Club, and the Cosmos Club. He held a board position at the Washington Art Students League and was an assistant director for the Paris Exposition of 1900. In 1940, Nichols acted as director for the Tiffany Foundation in Oyster Bay, Long Island where he also held a residence.
Nichols exhibited extensively throughout his career at venues including the National Academy of Design, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery, as well as solo shows at the Cosmos Club and Veerhoff Gallery in 1905. His work is housed in public collections, including the National Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Art, White House, Phillips Collection, New Mexico Museum of Fine Art, Newark Museum, Corcoran Gallery, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was the older brother of artist Spencer B. Nichols.