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Frank Nankivell

 (1869 - 1959)
Frank Arthur Nankivell was active/lived in New York, California, New Jersey / Australia.  Frank Nankivell is known for cartoon, genre, portrait, child figure.

Frank Nankivell

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Frank Nankivell
An illustrator, painter and printmaker working in aquatint and woodcut, Frank Arthur Nankivell was born in the old gold-mining town of Maldon, Victoria, Australia, November 16, 1869, and died in Florham Park, New Jersey July 4, 1959. His parents noticed his artistic abilities and moved him to Melbourne where he studied art at Wesley College. He intended to further his studies in Paris, and in 1890 at the age of 21, on a shoestring budget, he sailed for France. But, as with many young peoples' stories at this time, he became diverted from his original goal.

He had run out of funds by the time he reached Japan, and after hawking his work around was able to earn a living as a cartoonist in Tokyo. From 1891-1894 he was on the staff of the English-language magazine "Box of Curios".

In Tokyo he made the acquaintance of young Rakuten Kitazawa, who taught him editorial cartooning, and Nankivell was able to get him on staff as the only Oriental. Kitazawa later became father of Japanese comic art and founder of "Tokyo Puck", named after "Puck" magazine of the US. Nankivell left Japan in 1894 to study art in San Francisco. He tried his hand, unsuccessfully, at publishing, producing another Puck imitation, Chic, and drawing for several San Francisco newspapers, the "Call", the "Examiner" and the "Chronicle".

He left for New York in 1896 after Chic failed and continued to work as an illustrator and caricaturist and produced lithographic posters. In New York, he joined the staff of "Puck", where he remained until it was sold in 1913. "Puck" had been founded in 1877 by the Austrian-born American political cartoonist Joseph Keppler. It became a financial success by 1880, and a national power by 1884. It was read religiously by tens of thousands, feared and denigrated by those who felt its barbs, and became one of America's most popular and influential magazines. But there was also another reason for its fame. It was the first magazine to introduce the new photo-engraving process which freed cartoonists from the constraints and stiffness of steel-engraving and woodcuts.

Joseph Keppler had died in 1894, two years before Nankivell arrived. The magazine was taken over by Keppler's son, Joseph Keppler Jr., also a very good political cartoonist. When Nankivell arrived in 1896 he soon established himself as one of the magazine's more popular and influential cartoonists.

Nankivell devoted his work mainly to social subjects and to State and Federal political issues. He was very direct in the Australasian way, and absorbed the same lively American style of political cartooning that was to influence Australia through Livingstone Hopkins.

After "Puck" was sold in 1913, Nankivell left and pursued the "serious" art life he had hankered for in his earlier life. In that same year, he served on the selection committee and exhibited woodblock prints in the Armory Show -- the exhibition which introduced the American public to modern art from Europe. Nankivell exhibited "New York in the Making" in Gallery L at the Armory Show, a gallery devoted to American Watercolors and Drawings, with works by John Sloan, George Bellows, Walter Pach, George Luks and Maurice Prendergast.

In later life Nankivell specialized in the aquatint process although he continued to etch in a style reminiscent of his earlier magazine illustrations. He had close contacts with Australian artists including Norman Lindsay and Will Dyson who visited him in New York in 1929 and 1930 respectively. He also printed some of the drypoint etchings of the Australian expatriate Martin Lewis.

During the Depression Nankivell worked in the Graphic Arts Division of the US Federal Arts Project, whose task was to record the effects of the Depression on ordinary people, especially in rural areas. Many examples of their extraordinary work, including Frank Nankivell's, is held in the collections of The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

Nankivell never returned to Australia but in 1937 a comprehensive collection of 37 of his etchings was shown at the Anthony Hordern Gallery, in Sydney.


Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Frank Nankivell
Born in 1869 in Maldon, Victoria, Australia. Nankivell studied architecture and engineering at Wesley College in Melbourne. He was an engineer for Australian railroads until 1891 and then studied art for three years in Japan. After arriving in San Francisco in 1894, he did caricatures for local newspapers and magazines while studying at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute. In 1896 he moved to NYC where he worked for several magazines including Ladie's Home Journal and Puck. Member: American Painters & Sculptors. In: NY Bar Ass'n; Harvard Univ. Law School; Brooklyn Public Library; MM.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1933; Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Overland Monthly, July 1895, p.78; Who's Who in American Art 1936-41.

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Whistler House Museum of Art
The following is from Peter Kostoulakos, ISA ˜ Fine Art Consultant

Frank Arthur Nankivell — painter, cartoonist, illustrator, engraver, and lithographer — was born in Maldon, Victoria, Australia on November 16, 1869 and died in Florham Park, NJ in 1959. He and his daughter Edith, also an artist, lived and worked mainly in New York City, Walton, NY and San Francisco. Edith's mother, Ada, was Frank's first wife and his second wife was Blanche Martin. His address in 1926 was 33 West 14th Street in New York City.

Nankivell's art education took place at Wesley College in Melbourne, Australia; in Japan from 1891 to 1894; in San Francisco from 1894 to 1896. He also studied portrait painting in New York City and London. His work consists of portraits, cityscapes, and children and he created illustrations and etchings for "Ladies' Home Journal".

When Nankivell moved to New York City in 1896, he illustrated daily papers and, in May, joined the staff of Puck as a cartoonist and caricaturist. He published and illustrated the biweekly magazine Chic and made drawings for the San Francisco Call, Examiner, and Chronicle.

Nankivell was a member of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Salons of America.

His work is in the collections of the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA; the State Historical Society of MO; the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; the Columbus Museum of Art in OH; the Brooklyn Museum in NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the New York Bar Association; Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA; Duke University in Durham, NC; the Brooklyn Public Library in NY; the Museum of the American Indian in New York City; and the Denver Art Museum in CO.

Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art", vol. I, page 442
Ray Davenport, "Davenport's Art Reference 2001/2002", page 1349
Glenn Opitz, "Mantle Fielding", 1986, page 655
Daniel Mallett, "Index of Artists", page 308
Ray Kreps, "Dealer's Choice Biographical Encyclopedia of American Painters"... page 997
Jody Nankivell Herriott (granddaughter of Frank and Blanche)
Whistler House Museum of Art files

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About  Frank Nankivell

Born:  1869 - Maldon, Australia
Died:   1959 - Florham Park, New Jersey
Known for:  cartoon, genre, portrait, child figure

Essays referring to
Frank Nankivell

New York Armory Show of 1913