Paul Nash 1889-1946

Provenance

Elizabeth Heygate

Lady de Beer

C.L. Brook, 1967

Private Collection, 2011

Exhibitions

1935, London, Redfern Gallery, Paul Nash, 4 April - 11 May 1935, cat. no. 23
1974, Edinburgh, Arts Council Gallery, Art Then: Eight English Artists, 1924-40, August 1974, cat. no. 28
1975, London, Tate Gallery, Paul Nash, Paintings and Watercolours, 12 Nov. - 28 Dec. 1975, cat. no. 155
2014, London, Piano Nobile, Paul Nash: Watercolours 1910-1946: Another Life, Another World, 9 Oct. - 22 Nov. 2014, cat. no. 27

Literature

Andrew Causey, Paul Nash, 1980, Clarendon Press, cat. no. 855, p. 433, pl. 532 (illus.)

David Boyd Haycock, Paul Nash: Watercolours 1910-1946: Another Life, Another World, 2014, Piano Nobile Publications, cat. no. 27, pp. 66-67 (col. illus.)

This exceptional watercolour depicts a view from Nash’s flat overlooking the sea in Swanage, the Dorset town where he and Margaret moved in 1935. ‘It might be rash to say that Mr. Nash paints better in water-colour than in oil’, a reviewer from The Times observed of an exhibition of recent work in May 1927, ‘but there can be no doubt that the slighter medium is peculiarly well suited to his intentions as a designer… in these water-colours there is nothing to disturb our pleasure in following the artist in his rhythmical evolutions through space. His allusions to Nature, however remote, are perfectly understood through the nature of the medium, and there is no unorganized material to be explained away.’ As the reviewer suggested, Sea Wall is exacting in its composition, the coast and waves intersecting in a complex and tight-knit pattern.

Sea Wall was among the works shown at Nash’s exhibition of watercolours and drawings held at the Redfern Gallery in London in April and May 1935. The critic Jan Gordon, writing in The Observer, declared that the show ‘proves once again, if it needed any proof that he is one of the most subtle observers and recorders of the moods of landscape in the world of contemporary art.’ Two years later, Gordon was suggesting ‘that when the winds of controversy have blown over, Paul Nash will be left as the most truly original watercolour artist that Britain has produced for a long while.’

Lines of poetry had accompanied Nash’s earliest works, and the idea of Nash as a poet in paint lasted through his lifetime. ‘He is the poet of the English countryside’, wrote Mary Chamot in her 1937 survey Modern Painting in England. ‘Essentially a landscape painter, no artist has interpreted the beauty and rhythm of the English countryside as perfectly as he... His paintings, whether in oil or water-colour, are full of fresh air, with a wind blowing and trees swaying; and in some of his drawings he has tried to fix the rolling tide in a reverberating rhythm… Deliberately avoiding the brilliant green of full summer, he paints in pale colours and supplies in design what his pictures may lack in colour contrast.’

This text was written by David Boyd Haycock for Paul Nash: Another Life, Another World (2019, Piano Nobile Publications).