Nicholas St.John Rosse was born in 1945 in Hampstead, London, and was educated at University College School. From an early age he became interested in painting, encouraged and enthused by watching the landscape painter Donald Towner at work in the open air and visiting his studio. On leaving school, a few months' employment at Clifford Milburn ( Reeves )gave him the opportunity to become familiar with the work of Pietro Annigoni. Nicholas went to see him in Italy with a portfolio of drawings and three very beneficial years in Florence followed, as a student with the master and attending the Scuola Del Nudo of the Florence Academy
Nicholas has exhibited widely in one-
He has twice won the coveted Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award, and has works in their collection. This Montreal based foundation exists specially to encourage artists working in representational styles.
In 1981, Nicholas, his wife Chantale and their two sons Alexandre and Sebastien moved to Trethevy on the North Cornish Coast where the wild cliffs and beaches provide the artist with endless settings for his figure/beach compositions.
It was during his stay in Spain that Nicholas started to draw and paint people on the beach, particularly children playing. This has become a favourite theme over the years and is perhaps best typified in a painting seen by a large number of people annually in the collection of Lord and Lady St. Levan on St. Michael’s Mount : two girls absorbed in play on Marazion Beach, the Mount in the background. Certainly the light, textures and sensations of the beach have featured in many of the artist’s paintings since his move to Cornwall.
In 1998, he was commissioned by Britannia Royal Naval College to paint a portrait of the late Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse now hanging in the Senior Gun Room with portraits of famous Admirals of the past. In the year 2000 Nicholas was once again commissioned to paint a portrait, that of Admiral Sir Henry Leach, which was officially handed over to the College at the end of June that year. It is now also hanging in the Senior Gun Room where it can be seen on the days that the College is open to the public.
Year 2006: Nicholas is still forging ahead with the ‘Last Supper’ for the St Paul’s Catholic Church in Tintagel. It is slow due to other commitments and portrait commission, but he hopes to start on the main canvas in the next few weeks
Nicholas has had a very successful year .
The highlight has been his 3 specially painted paintings for the RSMA being accepted and hung.
And…. At long last the ‘Last Supper’ will be finished at the end of December and be hung at the church., the partially painted has been greatly admired at his studio show in August at the Rock institute.
Nicholas remembers his early training with Pietro Annigoni, the artist who painted arguably the most famous portrait of the Queen.
" I remember when I first met Annigoni at his studio in the early 60’s. I had found his number in the local phone book and had asked if I could show him some of my drawings. He lived in a fairly ‘colourful’ quarter of Florence -
Annigoni was a generous man: he was also completely single-
I did not work in the large warm studio, but up a flight of stairs in a draughty attic ‘cast’ studio with a little tin stove for warmth. There were two of us, and on cold winter mornings we would rummage around for odd bits of paper to start the fire. One day I found a large rather scruffy roll of paper in a corner -
I drew, I painted, I learned at first hand about the preparation and use of traditional materials. Above all I watched Annigoni at work – portraits, landscapes, large-
I later left Italy to work in Spain. On my return to England Annigoni sent me a telegram of best wishes for the opening of my first London one-
I last wrote to him not long before he died in 1988. As a reply he sent me a book of his latest work"