Philipps grew up within an artistic family. With this creative background and the influence of the Graham Sutherland Gallery, which was then located at her family home in Pembrokeshire, it was perhaps inevitable that Nicky would become such a prolific artist.
After leaving school, she trained at the City & Guilds of London Art School for two years before moving to the Cecil-Graves Studio in Florence, where she learnt the importance of the sight size method, before she returned to London in the late 1980s, as the call of the collection of The National Gallery and the Tate were too strong. It was back in the UK in the early 1990s where she commenced her immensely successful career as a portraitist.
Inspired by the great portrait artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, primarily Sir John Lavery, Sir Oswald Birley, Philip de László, Sir William Orpen and John Singer Sargent, Philipps soon decided that she wanted to create a truth in her work as well as producing portraits that would bring a sense of joy to those who saw them and a strong sense of likeness by those who sit for them.
In 2013 Nicky was approached by Royal Mail to paint a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II for the first-class stamp series celebrating the 60th anniversary of her Coronation, the first time Royal Mail had commissioned a painting. The full-length portrait depicts HM The Queen in her robes of the Order of the Garter, surrounded by her four dogs. It was at Buckingham Palace during one of her sittings that the idea of including the corgis was born. The painting, gifted by Royal Mail, has been accepted by The Queen and is now on display as part of the Royal Collection in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace.
In March 2014 Nicky’s portrait of Falklands hero Simon Weston OBE was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The portrait was commissioned by the NPG and the BBC for their joint project the ‘People’s Portrait’, which gave the public the chance to vote for the person they believed most deserving of a portrait hanging in the NPG. The BBC documented the portrait from the initial meeting of Nicky and Simon, through each ‘sitting’, to the unveiling of the portrait at the NPG by presenters Fiona Bruce and Dan Snow.
Between her portrait commissions, Nicky has had many successful Still Life and Landscape exhibitions. All 70 paintings were sold during the first week of her solo exhibition in Cork Street, and again at her 2015 exhibition at Fine Art Commissions. Her paintings can be found in public and private collections worldwide. A selection of works by Nicky Philipps is currently on exhibit at the Fine Arts Commission, 19 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6PX.
Main Image (above): African Plains, oil on canvas, 20 x 25 in., £14,500