Two British landscapes by war artist Paul Nash acquired for Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Skylight Landscape (1941) and Frozen Lake (Black Park Pond, Iver Heath, Bucks) (1928) have been donated to the Gallery by Jeremy Greenwood and Alan Swerdlow.
A painter, illustrator and writer, Paul Nash (1889-1946) was at the forefront of British art in the first half of the 20th century. He was celebrated for his lyrical depictions of the English landscape and as an Official War Artist in both First and Second World Wars.
Simon Martin, director, Pallant House Gallery, said: “Nash was a leading figure in both British surrealism and neo-romanticism in the 1930s and 1940s. Nash’s association with Englishness placed his early landscape work in the tradition of John Sell Cotman. However, he explored a modernist aesthetic informed by international art movements such as abstraction and surrealism, writing of ‘going modern and being British’. “He was drawn to particular landscapes and sites that he felt had a particular ‘sense of place’ and he would return to them throughout his career, imbuing them with symbolic qualities. Locations such as Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire, the Wittenham Clumps in the Thames Valley, Dymchurch on the Kent Coast and the landscape surrounding Madams – the Gloucestershire home of Charles and Clare Neilson to which Nash was a regular visitor – all became significant and repeated inspirations for his work. Nash began his career in watercolour and was drawn to the medium throughout his life, executing many of his most iconic works in this medium. Frozen Lake is representative of such understated watercolours of the English landscape. It is his final depiction of Black Park Lake on Iver Heath, near to where the artist spent his teenage years.
“Skylight Landscape was commissioned by Charles Neilson for his wife Clare, one of Nash’s most important patrons. It depicts the view of the Malvern Hills through the window of the attic of Madams, which was Clare Neilson’s study. The unconventional and distinctive composition includes the hinge of the window frame, reflective of Nash’s interest in surreal machine forms. Due to asthma Nash was unable to fly in planes but he was drawn to imagery that was suggestive of aerial views from planes, particularly during the Second World War. Originally to have been called Green Landscape because of the trees in summer foliage depicted in the painting, Nash later changed it to the current title. The Pallant House Gallery archive includes four photographs of Nash painting this work in the attic, taken by Clare Neilson.”
Pallant House Gallery has a substantial holding of works by Paul Nash including Dead Spring (1929), Wittenham (1935) and Garden of the Madamites (c.1941-44).