Lawrence W. Nichols, senior curator of European and American painting and sculpture before 1900, will retire this June after nearly three decades of service to the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA). Nichols joined the museum in 1992 and will now be named the museum’s first ever curator emeritus.
A long-time member of CODART, Nichols attended the inaugural meeting of CODART in The Hague (1998) and he delivered the keynote lecture at CODART ELF in Ghent (2008). In 2015 he received a small group of CODART members in Toledo on their study-trip through the Midwest.
Over his 28-year career at TMA, Nichols oversaw the acquisition of some 50 works of art, including significant paintings such as Frans Hals’s Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape (early 1620s), Guercino’s Lot and His Daughters (1651-52), Chardin’s The Washerwoman and Woman Drawing Water at the Cistern (1733-39), Géricault’s Boy Giving Oats to an Unhitched Horse (1823), Delacroix’s Botzaris Surprises the Turkish Camp and Falls Fatally Wounded (1860-62), and Hammershøi’s Interior of Courtyard, Strandgade 30 (1899).
Nichols organized and co-organized 25 special exhibitions and published numerous scholarly articles, reviews and exhibition catalogues. Among the many renowned international exhibitions on Dutch and Flemish art that Nichols (co-)curated are such highlights as Frans Hals Portraits, A Family Reunion (2018), which traveled to Brussels and Paris; Rembrandt: What Was He Thinking? (2006); and Hendrick Goltzius – Prints, Drawings, and Paintings (2003), which also appeared in Amsterdam and New York. He was responsible for bringing The Age of Rubens (1994), the most visited exhibition in TMA’s history, to Toledo.
Nichols has contributed significantly to our field through publications and articles, including the definitive monograph and catalogue raisonné of Hendrick Goltzius (2013), as well as Frans Hals: The Family Group Portraits in Frans Hals Portraits, A Family Reunion (essay in the 2019 exhibition catalogue); Pleasure and Piety, The Art of Joachim Wtewael in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 157 (2015), pp. 501-02; The Dutch Michelangelo’ Cornelis van Haarlem (1562-1638) in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 155 (2013), pp. 120-21; Manet and Hals: Two Geniuses, One Vision in Manet: Portraying Life (essay in the 2012 exhibition catalogue); and the exhibition catalogue Hendrick Goltzius – Prints, Drawings, and Paintings (2003).
In addition to his CODART membership, Nichols participated in numerous international professional organizations, committees, panels and agencies. From 2002 to 2008, he was a founding trustee of the Association of Art Museum Curators. He also served as a member and chair of the Arts and Artifacts International Indemnity Advisory Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts and continues to serve on the Old Master paintings vetting committee of The European Fine Arts Fair, Maastricht (TEFAF), as well as the Art Advisory Committee of the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue.