Esteemed expert of European art to be named Toledo Museum of Art’s first curator emeritus
Lawrence W. Nichols, TMA’s William Hutton senior curator, European and American painting and sculpture before 1900, will retire this June after nearly three decades of service to the Toledo Museum of Art. A baroque specialist, Nichols joined TMA in 1992 and served as a member of the management team from 2011 to 2020. His time at the Museum spans the tenures of six TMA directors.
“It is difficult to imagine TMA without Larry’s rare combination of erudition, collegiality and good humor, but we are delighted that he will continue to engage with the museum as its first emeritus curator,” said Adam M. Levine, the Museum’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO. “Larry’s contributions to this organization through acquisitions, exhibitions and publications are second-to-none, and he is most deserving of the curator emeritus honor.”
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 that Nichols curated and co-curated are such highlights as One Each: Still Lifes by Pissarro, Cézanne, Manet and Friends (2020); Frans Hals Portraits, A Family Reunion (2018), which traveled to Brussels and Paris; Degas and the Dance (2015); Manet: Portraying Life (2012), which traveled to London; Rembrandt: What Was He Thinking? (2006); Hendrick Goltzius - Prints, Drawings, and Paintings (2003), which also appeared in Amsterdam and New York; and Van Gogh: Fields (2002-03), which traveled to Bremen. 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 his field’s scholarship through publications and articles that have included the definitive monograph and catalogue raisonné of Hendrick Goltzius (Davaco b.v., Doornspijk, March, 2013), as well as “Frans Hals: The Family Group Portraits,” in: “Frans Hals Portraits, A Family Reunion,” Toledo Museum of Art / Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels / Fondation Custodia – Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, 2019, pp. 14-53; “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,” Toledo Museum of Art / Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2012-13, pp. 66-71; and “Hendrick Goltzius - Prints, Drawings, and Paintings” [exhibition catalogue], Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Toledo Museum of Art, 2003 (chapter 10), among many others.
For more than two decades Nichols was TMA’s curatorial liaison to The Georgia Welles Apollo Society, a membership group that supports the Museum through an active acquisitions fund. Throughout his career he was a frequent lecturer, who shared his enthusiasm for European and American art with TMA docents and audiences at institutions around the world.
Nichols is also distinguished by his service to the field through participation 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 attended the inaugural meeting of the Curators of Dutch Art organization (CODART) in 1998, and he delivered its keynote address in 2008. 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.
“I am grateful indeed to have called TMA my professional home and for the opportunities over the years to advance scholarship, create joy, foster understanding and engender self-reflection through extraordinary works of art,” said Nichols. “I cannot imagine a more supportive and inspiring group of colleagues, volunteers and audiences, and I look forward to continuing to partner with the Museum on select projects in the future. It has been a pleasure to raise our family in Toledo.”
Nichols received his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Prior to arriving at TMA, he was a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.