Nicholas Makes His First Visit to Mr. Bray

Nicholas Makes His First Visit to Mr. Bray

Phiz (Hablot K. Browne)

Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby

June 1839

steel engraving

Source: J. A. Hammerton, The Dickens Picture-Book, p. 165.

Image scan and text by Philip V. Allingham.

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After the two large-group scenes for May, Phiz elects to produce compositions that focus on the relationships between three characters in each of the June (Part 15) etchings. Here, Nicholas, acting as the agent for the Cheerybles (who have bought drawings from her in order to support her), visits Madeline Bray and her invalid father, who is within the "Rules" of the King's Bench Prison, St. George's Fields, for a debt incurred to Ralph Nickleby. As he enters the room, Nicholas is surprised to see that the object of his employers' financial assistance is none other than the beautiful young lady who attracted his attention earlier. Her artistic creations have funded Bray's renting of the apartment and the purchase of such elegant furnishings as the harp (shown right) and a piano (presumably too large an object to be worked conveniently into the picture). Phiz has used cross-hatching to suggest the dimness of the interior, but has otherwise not suggested the dilapidated nature of Bray's residence. As in the letterpress, as Nicholas enters the upstairs front room, Madeline is seated at a table by the window (not shown, but a source of light, left) drawing, while her father, scarcely fifty yet emaciated, sits propped up by pillows in an easy chair. The scene realized, therefore encompasses almost a whole page in this forty-sixth chapter, "Throws some Light upon Nicholas's Love; but whether for Good or Evil the Reader must determine" (Part 15, June 1839).

Reference

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book, 1910.


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Last modified 14 May 2009