The Pied Piper

Hilda Rix Nicholas

The Pied Piper by Hilda Rix Nicholas


Hilda Rix Nicholas
The Pied Piper
oil on canvas
113.3 x 160.3 cm

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the Estate of the artist


 Paris to Monaro: Pleasures from the studio of Hilda Rix Nicholas, National Portrait Gallery, 2013

Further Information

Hilda Rix Nicholas was drawn to depicting figures in costume throughout her career, from dress up parties; to her observation of outfits unfamiliar to her eye from Etaples and Morocco; to nursery rhyme watercolours completed for her young son. Some of her most well know paintings reflect this interest, including La Robe Chinoise (The Chinese Robe) c.1913 in the collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Les Fleuers dedaignees (The Despised Flowers) 1925 in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. In 1917, she undertook costume designs representing Australian fauna, flora and produce for a fundraiser for the Anzac Club in London.

“As well as being a keen collector of ‘costumes’, Hilda Rix Nicholas was very skilled at making them. She almost certainly made at least some of the garments visible in the large canvas depicting the Pied Piper of Hamlin, which may have been painted in association with an entertainment at the British Sailors’ Insitute, Boulounge-sur-mer, staged in 1912-13. The model was a sailor, persuaded by Hilda and her sister Elsie to pose in strange garb on an open hillside. A male artist friend helped him don the medieval gear before replacing his own, and they set off, the double-dressed seaman carrying the canvas and easel. ‘When we at last arrived and he shed the chrysalis of sailor, oh! How inspiring he looked on the edge of the hill with the wind blowing out the long folds of his red and yellow cloak!’ the artist wrote.”

Dr Sarah Engledow, for Lauraine Diggins Fine Art exhibition catalogue, 2023