Benedict Nicolson

Lionel Benedict Nicolson MVO (6 August 1914 – 22 May 1978) was a British art historian and author.

Nicolson was the elder son of authors Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West and the brother of writer and politician Nigel. His godmothers were Violet Trefusis, Olive Custance and Rosamund Grosvenor.

The boys grew up at Sissinghurst Castle, in the rural depths of Kent, surrounded by the renowned gardens that are now run by the National Trust. Nicolson was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford, studying modern history. In 1939, he was appointed Deputy Surveyor of the King's Pictures under Kenneth Clark, but soon after, war was declared and he joined the Intelligence Corps, rising to the rank of captain. In 1945 he resumed his Royal post as Deputy Surveyor, then under Anthony Blunt.

He was married on 8 August 1955 to Luisa Vertova, the elder daughter of Professor Giacomo Vertova of Florence, and they had a daughter, Vanessa Pepita Giovanna (b. 1956), before divorcing in 1962.

After being appointed a MVO, Nicolson resigned from the Royal Household in 1947 and became editor of The Burlington Magazine (1947–1978). Nicolson spent much of his life collecting photographs of early seventeenth-century works in the Caravaggio manner which he wrote about in The Burlington Magazine and which eventually filled three large volumes.

Nicolson died in 1978 and was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in Sissinghurst, Kent, adjacent to his father.

Archive & libraryEdit

Nicolson's archive[1] is in the Paul Mellon Centre where it is fully catalogued and available for consultation. The archive includes material created and collected by Nicolson, largely in a personal rather than professional capacity, throughout his life. The majority pertains to 1933–1939. The collection primarily includes journals[2] and correspondence.[3]




  1. ^ Centre, Paul Mellon. "The Collections". Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  2. ^ "CalmView: Record". Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  3. ^ "CalmView: Record". Retrieved 2 August 2022.


External linksEdit

See alsoEdit

Court offices
Preceded by
Deputy Surveyor of the King's Pictures
Succeeded by