John Nash

John Nash

Painter, illustrator and engraver Nash, famous for his war paintings, also specialized in timeless landscapes in which he captured the gentle geometry and light of the English countryside. Read more

Younger brother to Paul Nash, John Nash was also born in London, but the family soon moved out of the city and John was brought up in the rolling countryside of Buckinghamshire. This gentle childhood greatly informed and influenced his vocabulary as an artist, his preoccupation with botany, and his commitment to depict form accurately.

After his education at Wellington College, John was dissuaded from pursuing a formal artistic education by his brother, who had been at the Slade; but Paul still encouraged his evident skills as a draughtsman. Early works by John were mostly in watercolour, under the influence of Harold Gilman whose mastery of oils gave John the necessary tools to produce his finest landscapes. These include The Cornfield (1918; now held by the Tate), his first oil without a war subject, which perfectly characterizes the strong style and geometric order of the artist. Nash said that as War Artists he and his brother would only paint for their own pleasure after six o'clock, which is why long shadows feature so frequently.

The most well known painting by Nash is Over The Top (1918; currently hanging in the Imperial War Museum). It records the heroic and horrific attack by Artist’s Rifles near Cambrai, which Nash painted from memory, three months later, having been one of only twelve men from eighty to survive.

After the war he painted mainly landscapes, still haunted by emotions from his experience in the trenches; these dark, brooding and sometimes claustrophobic scenes are in many ways typical of the maudlin perspective of artists who survived the World Wars.

Nash taught at the Ruskin School 1924-29, and then at the Royal College of Art 1934-57, where he became friends with Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, with whom he enjoyed frequent painting trips. Nash shares with each strong similarities in style and structure, subtle yet powerful use of colour, and pattern and choice of theme. Nash was also greatly acclaimed for his skill as a wood engraver and an accomplished printmaker. His lifelong love of botanical subjects can be seen in his illustrations for Galthorne-Hardy's Wild Flowers in Britain(1938) and his engravings for Poisonous Plants- Deadly Dangerous and Suspect (1927), for which he and the publishers the Haslewood Press would be highly acclaimed.

John Nash was elected Royal Academician in 1951 and was awarded CBE in 1964. He died in 1977.


The 100 year aniversary of WW1 is being marked by Bristol's Royal West of England Academy who are holding an exhibition titled. 'Brothers In Arms'. Currated by Paul Gough the exhibition will reunited the work to the immensely influential siblings John and Paul Nash, whose landscape paintings were a major feature of 20th century British art both during the war and peacetime.

Janette Ray Booksellers in York will be holding an exhibiton this summer dedicated to the bicycle. The exhibition will run until September 20th and will feature John Nash's 'Harvesting' alongside artworks by Colin Self, Colin Lanceley, Ferdinand Leger and their contempories.