Nicholas Chevalier was born in St Petersburg to a Swiss father and Russian mother but grew up in Switzerland where he first studied art. After further study in Munich and London, he lived in Italy before migrating to Melbourne in 1854 where he established himself as an award-winning artist.
Chevalier visited New Zealand from Australia on a number of occasions in the mid 1860s. Between 1865 and 1866, he undertook commissioned sketching tours of Otago, Canterbury, and the West Coast. The first of these visits was funded by the Otago Provincial Council. The Council hoped Chevalier's works would be shown in the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and attract settlers to the Otago province. Although the commission was completed, there is no record that the works were included in the Paris Exhibition.
Chevalier settled in London in 1870, after travelling as an artist with the Duke of Edinburgh on a world tour.
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