Paul Nash

Paul Nash

Paul Nash was the son of a succesful lawyer, and was born in London on 11th May 1889. He was educated at St Paul's School and went on to study art at the Slade. It was there he met contempories, Stanley Spencer, Dora Carrington, Christopher Nevinson and Ben Nicholson amongst others. Having had a deeply troubled childhood, (his mother suffered terribly from depression and was frequently hospitalised), he was a very sensative character prone to dark moods and preoccupied with his own mortality from childhood. Read more

It follows that Paul Nash was drawn to the works of the Pre Rapheallites who dealt with deep themes with great romanticism. He was looking beyond the subect depicted, for greater meaning, he drew much from the poetry and paintings of William Blake and of Dante Gabriel Rosseti and particularly the paintings by Samual Palmer who shared Nash's enormous love and connection with English landscape.

The subjects and locations of his works very often loaded with spirituality and connections of afterlife, but despite his atraction to melancholy an overlying greater feeling of beauty above and beyond the immeadiate subject.

Paul Nash enlisted in the Artist's Rifles at the outbreak of World War One, drawings produced from his front line sketches were well recieved at his exhibition at the Goupil Gallery in 1917. As a result he was recruited as an official war artist, he returned to the western front and the sketches resulted in his first oil paintings and some of the most searing and iconic images of war ever painted. He was, unsuprisingly profoundly affected and saw it as his role to act as ¨a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever, Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls.¨

Nash has great importance also for his part in pioneering Modernism in British Art. He was one of the founders of the short lived, but widely influential Unit One with fellow Modernists Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, between the wars it helped to inject energy into a depressed artistic scene. During this time he travelled to Italy and to Paris and came to be influenced by contempory artists Matisse and Picasso and by Georgio de Chirico whose work futher encouraged his interests in Surrealism and the symbolism in his own work.

Nash was again employed as official War artist during the Second World War, more familiar with articulating the images of death and entirely unapologetic about doing so, and he produced  paintings such as The Battle of Britain and the famous Totes Meer [Dead Sea]. 

Nash continued to paint despite knowing that the asthma that had threatened him so long was overtaking him. His final Sunflower series symbolizing his coming to terms with the cycle of nature.

Paul Nash died on July 11th 1946.


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.