Paul Nash (artist)

Paul Nash (artist)

Paul Nash, (11 May 1889 – 11 July 1946) was an English war artist.

Early life

He was the son of a successful lawyer, and born in London on 11 May 1889. Nash was educated at St Paul's School and spent a year at the Slade School of Art (unlike his younger brother John, who became an artist without formal training). At the Slade he met Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, William Roberts, Dora Carrington and Christopher R. W. Nevinson. Influenced by the poetry of William Blake and the paintings of Samuel Palmer and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Nash had one-man shows in 1912 and 1913, largely devoted to drawings and watercolours of brooding landscapes.

War artist

At the outbreak of World War I, Nash enlisted in the Artists' Rifles and was sent to the Western Front in February 1917 as a second lieutenant in the Hampshire Regiment. A few days before the Ypres offensive he fell into a trench. He broke a rib and was invalided home. While recuperating in London, Nash worked from his front-line sketches to produce a series of drawings of the war. This work, which shows the influence of the literary magazine "BLAST" and the Vorticist movement, was well-received when exhibited later that year at the Goupil Gallery.

As a result of this exhibition, Charles Masterman, head of the government's War Propaganda Bureau (WPB) recruited Nash as an official war artist. In November 1917 he returned to the Western Front where his drawings resulted in his first oil paintings. Nash's work during the war included "The Menin Road", "We Are Making a New World", "The Ypres Salient at Night", "The Mule Track", "A Howitzer Firing", "Ruined Country" and "Spring in the Trenches". They are some of the most powerful and enduring images of the Great War painted by an English artist.

Nash used his opportunity as a war artist to bring home the full horrors of the conflict. As he wrote to his wife from the Front on 16 November 1917:

"I am no longer an artist. I am 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 was also a pioneer of modernism in Britain, promoting the avant-garde European styles of abstraction and surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1933 he co-founded the influential modern art movement Unit One with fellow artists Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and the critic Herbert Read. It was a short-lived but important move towards the revitalisation of British art in the inter-war period.

During World War II Nash was employed by the Ministry of Information and the Air Ministry, and paintings he produced during this period include the "Battle of Britain" and "Totes Meer (Dead Sea)".

Nash found much inspiration in the English landscape, particularly landscapes with a sense of ancient history, such as burial mounds, Iron Age hill forts such as Wittenham Clumps and the standing stones at Avebury and Stonehenge.

Personal life

Between 1934 and 1936 Paul Nash lived near Swanage, Dorset and produced a considerable number of paintings and photographs during this period. At the invitation of John Betjeman, he compiled the Shell Guide to Dorset, which was then published in 1935.

Paul Nash died on July 11, 1946, at Boscombe, Hampshire and was buried on July 17 in Langley church, Buckinghamshire.

ee also

*List of British artists

External links

* [ Paul Nash at]
* [ Paul Nash - British Surrealist Art]
* [ Paul Nash at the Tate Gallery Archive]

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