Although Scottish by birth, it was as a painter of Irish life that Erskine Nicol made his name. It seems that Nicol did indeed see himself, as the editor of Art Journal in 1839 saw him, as a 'painter in ordinary to the Irish peasant'. Between 1850 and 1869 Nicol showed over ninety Irish subjects at the Royal Scottish Academy. Many were objective, realist paintings tackling subjects otherwise ignored by most Victorian artists due to social pressures. The present work shows an interior of an Irish Catholic cottage with the sign of their religious persuasion on the front door. Some of the artist's other Irish paintings are of a more humorous nature (see lot 31) and are endorsements of Victorian anti-Irish prejudice. Nicol worked in Ireland from 1846 to 1851 and returned annually for a few years afterwards. His patrons, however, were mainly from Edinburgh and London and it is possible that many of his paintings carried slightly anti-Irish titles even though the subjects were nonetheless of a more serious social- conscience nature.