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Powell, Nicolas

    Full Name: Powell, Nicolas

    Other Names:

    • Caryll Nicolas Peter Powell

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1920

    Date Died: 1986

    Place Born: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

    Home Country/ies: South Africa

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), Baroque, and sculpture (visual works)

    Career(s): art historians


    Fuseli and baroque architecture scholar; writer. Powell’s parents were Owen Price Powell and Nora Webb (Powell). His father worked as a mining engineer in South Africa. The younger Powell graduated from the Felsted (boarding) School, Essex, attending the university in Strasburg, Germany for a year, 1937-1938, before Peterhouse, Cambridge University, where he graduated in 1941. During World War II, he served with the Marine Commandos, rising to lieutenant. He was wounded in Tobru, taken prisoner in Italy in 1942 and freed by the Allies in 1943. He participated (and was wounded again) during the Normandy invasion. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Powell was awarded an M.A. from Cambridge in 1945. He worked in various capacities for British [arts] Council, London, first at the home office, 1949-1951. During this time he wrote the catalog on Henry Fuseli exhibition in 1951. Powell published his catalog of Fuseli drawings the following year. He was appointed second secretary to the British embassy in Bonn, West Germany in 1954, transferring to Cologne in 1959 and London,1962-1968. At the suggestion of former Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum and drawings expert Karl Theodore Parker, Powell undertook a volume on Fuseli’s “The Nightmare” for the Art in Context series, the brainchild of Allen Lane (1902-1970) to document a single work of art. The book was completed during his appointment to the bureau in Vienna (1968-1975). His writing interests in later years turned toward that city and the Jugendstil. He produced broader but less penetrating works such as The Sacred Spring: the Arts in Vienna, 1898-1918. Powell’s final assignment was in Amsterdam, 1975-1980. He appears in the book by Hilary St. George Saunders (1898-1951), The Green Beret, 1949.

    Selected Bibliography

    Fuseli: Catalogue of an Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1950; The Drawings of Henry Fuseli. London: Faber and Faber, 1951; From Baroque to Rococo: an Introduction to Austrian and German Architecture from 1580 to 1790. New York: Praeger, 1959; Fuseli: The Nightmare. New York: Viking Press, 1973; The Sacred Spring: the Arts in Vienna, 1898-1918. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1974.


    [jacket flap] Fuseli: The Nightmare. New York: Viking Press, 1973; “Obituary of Mr C N P Powell (163) /SCT.” Times (London) June 26, 1986.


    "Powell, Nicolas." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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