Portrait of Sir John Nicoll (1899-1981), Governor of Singapore (1952-1955)

John Nicoll was Governor of Singapore (1952–1955). He appointed the Rendel Commission in 1953 to consider the possibility of more local political participation and self-government for Singapore. The Commission’s recommendations significantly expanded the electorate roll and paved the way for the Legislative Assembly elections in 1955. Nicoll Highway is named in his honour. William Coldstream was an important British artist, known for his slow and considered method of depicting figures. He studied at the Slade School of Art, and by 1933 was an established artist in London. In 1937 Coldstream painted portraits of the modern poet W.H. Auden and leading left-wing intellectuals such as Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender.In the same year he co-founded the Euston Road School in London, which in reaction to non-figurative abstract art, emphasised observation and working from the model. Coldstream later became Principal of the Slade School of Art (1949–1975). In this painting, he has innovatively posed Nicoll with his face in near profile, at an angle to the picture frame