This third installment of selections from the James Boyd Collection of New York City Etchings (be sure to see part 1 and part 2) focuses on the work of Edith Nankivell (1896-1984), who, with 46 prints, figures prominently in Box 3. In researching her, I discovered that she is in fact the daughter of Frank A. Nankivell (1869-1959), whose work is also represented in the collection, if only twice. Further digging revealed a rather interesting back story.
Frank Nankivell was born in Australia in 1869 and lived in Japan and San Francisco before coming to New York in 1896, the year of daughter Edith’s birth. While in New York, he worked as a cartoonist and caricaturist for Puck, the famed humor magazine.
In September 1919, seven months after his wife died, Frank Nankivell married Blanche Martin, who was not only a school friend of Edith’s, but had also caught the fancy of her brother, Frank Jr., who was also an artist. Both children protested the marriage to no avail. The newlyweds went west on a two month assignment for Frank Sr. and returned to find the locks to his studio changed. His children denied him access to his furnishings, art equipment, supplies and artwork, and they became estranged from their father. The elder Nankivell sued his daughter in 1921, but the suit was dismissed. Ultimately, the marriage ended, and it is unclear whether Edith Nankivell ever reconciled with her father.
Edith Nankivell achieved a considerable degree of success in the art world. Her work was exhibited in Paris in 1924 and her prints are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in addition to the works here at N-YHS.
Below are the two works by Frank Nankivell Sr., followed by five etchings by Edith. Whatever tensions existed between them, father and daughter clearly shared a great talent and an appreciation for the beauty of New York.
This post is by Jill Reichenbach, Reference Librarian, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections.