GASTON NICK (French / c.1885-post 1953)

The painter, etcher, and wood engraver Gaston Nick was born in Ajaccio, Corsica. He went to Paris to study art, but his career does not appear to have taken off until the 1920s, when he emerges as an important book artist, illustrating works by writers such as Verlaine, Maupassant, and Mérimée with original etchings. Prosper Mérimée was Gaston Nick’s great-uncle. Among the most important of these books is Nick’s edition of the semi-autobiographical novel Jours de famine et de détresse by the Dutch/Belgian author Neel Doff. Gaston Nick’s career appears to come to an end with an edition of Henriot’s Le Diable à l’hotel in 1944; the following year, his career was surveyed by Pierre Mornand in Trente Artistes du Livre. It would be easy to assume that Gaston Nick perished during the war; but in fact he simply changed his name. In 1946 he published an edition of George Sand’s La Petite Fadette, illustrated with colour etchings, under the name G. Nick Petrelli. He used the same name for a solo exhibition at Pelletan Helleu in 1947, and an exhibition at Villefranche-de-Rouergue in 1953, consisting of paintings and etchings of the village of Najac in Aveyron. The reason for this change of name is obscure, but as it is not immediately obvious that Gaston Nick and Nick Petrelli are in fact the same person, the result is that Nick seems to disappear abruptly from the record, and Petrelli to arrive from nowhere. As with Denis Volx, this switchback of nomenclature has understandably confused his posthumous reputation.

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Selected prints by GASTON NICK

Le jour de marché, 1928
Children at a shop
window, 1927
Mother and children, 1927

View all available prints by GASTON NICK