Paul Nash


Biography of Paul Nash

Paul Nash (11 May 1889 – 11 July 1946) was a British painter, surrealist and war artist, as well as a book-illustrator, writer and designer of applied art. He was the older brother of the artist John Nash.

The son of a successful lawyer and a mentally unstable mother who died in a mental asylum in 1910, Nash was born in London on 11 May 1889. He was educated at St Paul's School, and originally intended for a career in the navy, like his maternal grandfather. However, he failed his exams and decided to take up art as a career. Studying first at the Chelsea Polytechnic, he then went to the London County Council School of Photo-engraving and Lithography, where his work was spotted and praised by Selwyn Image. He was advised by his friend, the poet Gordon Bottomley, and the artist William Rothenstein, that he should attend the Slade School of Art at University College, London. He enrolled in October 1910, though he later recorded that on his first meeting with the Professor of Drawing, Henry Tonks, 'It was evident he considered that neither the Slade, nor I, were likely to derive much benefit'.

The Slade was then opening its doors to a remarkable crop of young talents – what Tonks later described as the school's second and last 'Crisis of Brilliance' (the first included Augustus John and Percy Wyndham Lewis). Nash's fellow students included Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, William Roberts, Dora Carrington, Christopher R. W. Nevinson and Edward Wadsworth. Nash struggled with figure drawing, and spent only a year at the school. Influenced by the poetry of William Blake and the paintings of Samuel Palmer and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Nash had shows in 1912 and 1913 (sometimes alone, sometimes with his brother John), largely devoted to drawings and watercolours of brooding landscapes. By summer 1914 he was enjoying some success.

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