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Watercolorist Gustav Nilson was born in Vienna, Austria, where he abandoned his study of engineering to study at the National Arts Academy. He studied with the two most famous poster artists of the time: Lucian Bernhard in Berlin, Germany and later with Julius Klinger in Vienna. By 1922, he was an established poster artist. That same year, he designed the posters for the American Gold Loan in Austria. It was through this work that he met the American Consul, who suggested he move to America. Nilson came to New York, where he worked as a freelance designer for advertising firms and as an art director for several large lithography houses. This experience led him to establish a business, New York Art Service, in which he was a partner. Nilson's well-known watercolors of Bucks County barns, covered bridges, antique shops and old mills reflect his love for the area. He also painted harbor scenes of the New England Shore and Europe.
Gustav Nilson, 1978. Photograph by John Sutton. The Nancy Hellebrand Collection. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
Vienna Academy, Engineering, Vienna, Austria, 1916
Studied at the National Arts Academy in Vienna, Austria
Studied with poster artist Lucian Bernhard in Berlin, Germany, and Julius Klinger in Vienna, Austria
Teachers and Influences
Poster artists in Vienna and Berlin during the 1920s
Connection to Bucks County
Gustav Nilson came to Pipersville in 1941 and later moved to Neshaminy Falls. He was very active in exhibiting locally.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Nilson was a member of the Upstairs Gallery in Lahaska and active in the Doylestown Art League.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Stover Mill Show, Erwinna, Pennsylvania, 1975
Picture Frame Gallery, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1979
Major Group Exhibitions
Celebrate Bucks County Arts Invitational, Bucks County Council for the Arts, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1986,
Bucks County Illustrators Exhibition, Rodman House, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1980-1981
Lambertville House, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1967
Doylestown Art League, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1974
Crest Gallery, Yardley, Pennsylvania, 1975
Collector's Room Gallery, Carversville, Pennsylvania, 1975
Berus Gallery, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1978
Bucks County Panorama, January 1975
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Occasionally taught students privately