Biography of Paul Nash

Photo of Paul Nash

Paul Nash was a twentieth century artist  known for his war scenes and surrealist visions.

When and Where was he Born?

11th May 1889, London, England.

Family Background:

Paul Nash was the eldest of three children of the barrister and judge Harry Nash and Caroline Maud Nash who lived at Sunningdale Gardens.


Colet Court Preparatory School of St. Paul’s, London. He failed to pass his naval entrance examination despite attending crammer school at Greenwich. Chelsea Polytechnic. Bolt Court Art School. Slade School of Art, London.

Timeline of Paul Nash:

1893: His brother John (also later an artist) is born.

1901: The family move to Wood Lane House, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. The garden here was to inspire his later landscape drawings.

1906: Nash attends art school at Chelsea Polytechnic and evening classes in Fleet Street and he began experimenting with pen and ink drawings.

1908: He illustrates and sells bookplates to supplement his income.

1909: His work for a poster competition at Bolt Court Art School was highly praised by the tutor William Rothenstein and the two became lifelong friends.

1910: He meets and became friends with Ben Nicholson at the Slade School of Art. Death of his mother on 14th February.

1911: Nash begins to concentrate on landscapes as he felt his figurative work was not up to standard. He lives in lodgings at 19 Paulton’s Square in Chelsea.

1912: He visits the Wells family at Sinodun House in Berkshire and makes drawings of Wittenham Clumps. In November he holds his first one-man exhibition at the Carfax Gallery, London where he showed his drawings.

1913: A friend at the Slade School introduces him to his future wife Margaret. He shows work at the New English Art Club during May and is praised by Roger Fry. He holds a joint exhibition with his brother John at Dorien Leigh Gallery in South Kensington, London in November.

1914: Nash joins the Omega workshops and works with Fry on the restoration of the Frescoes by Mantegna at Hampton Court Palace. He meets the poets Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon. He was included in “Twentieth Century Art: A Review of Modern Movements at the Whitechapel Gallery in London during May. In July he visits the Lake District and makes a number of landscape paintings. Nash enlists in the Artist’s Rifles at the outbreak of the First World War in December. Nash gets engaged to the Suffragette Margaret Theodosia Odeh and moves to her flat in St Pancras after they are married in September at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields.

1915: Nash serves his army time at barracks in London and Camberley and is commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Hampshire Regiment.

1917: After serving in the Home Service Nash is posted to France but is invalided out after being wounded in the Ypres salient in May. He holds a one-man exhibition of war drawings at the Goupil Gallery in June. In July he meets C.R.W. Nevinson who taught him lithography. He is sent back to France in November as an official war artist to Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge.

Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood
Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood. 1918. (Imperial War Museum)

1918: Exhibition “Void of War” is held at the Leicester Galleries in London. He shares a studio with his brother John at Chalfont St. Peter in Buckinghamshire.

1919: Nash spends most of the year in London after his discharge from the Army. He visits Dymchurch in Kent and the Chilterns. He is commissioned to do some stage design for “The Truth About the Russian Ballet Dancers” at the London Coliseum. He paints the “Menin Road”.

1920: He goes to live at Dymchuch and paints many pictures there.

1921: He visits Paris for the first time but contracts a severe illness and is unable to paint. He lives at 2 Rose Cottages Dymchurch, near Rye in Sussex where he meets Edward Burra.

1922: He moves to Pantile Cottage in Dymchurch.

1924: He teaches design at the Royal College of Art and visits Paris and Italy in the winter.

1925: He moves to Iden, near Rye in Sussex. His wife Margaret miscarried a child. They live at Oxenbridge Cottage, Iden in Sussex.

1928: Nash exhibits widely, including watercolours and wood engravings at the Warren Gallery, the Redfern Gallery and the Leicester Galleries.

1929: Death of his father in February.

1930: The Nash’s go to Paris and the South of France with Edward Burra. They buy New House in Rye on their return.

1931: He visits the United States and takes a lot of photographs with a new camera given to him by his wife. He becomes the Art Critic of the “Weekend Review” and later “The Listener”.

1933: He discovers Avebury Stone Circle for the first time. Visits Paris, French Riviera, Spain and North Africa. His asthma attacks begin to get worse.

1934: Nash spends the summer near Romney Marsh. He moves to Whitecliffe Farm near Swanage in Dorset.

1935: Nash moves to 2 The Parade in Swanage, Dorset.

1936: He moves on to London and settles at 3 Eldon Road, Hampstead. He was a Committee Member and exhibitor at the International Surrealist exhibition held at the New Burlington Galleries in London.

Landscape from a Dream. 1936-8. (Tate Gallery)
Landscape from a Dream. 1936-8. (Tate Gallery)

1938: A retrospective of his oil paintings at the Leicester Galleries is held. He exhibits at the Venice Biennale. Visits the house of his friends Charles and Clare Neilson in Gloucestershire called “Madams” in June which was to be a major inspiration for his later paintings.

1939: In August he visits Avon Gorge near Bristol. Moves from London to Oxford and stay at 2 Beaumont Street and later 62 Holywell.

1940: Hr is appointed an Official War Artist during the Second World War for the Air Ministry and The Ministry of Information where he stays at the Russell Hotel in London. The family home meanwhile moves to 106 Banbury Road, Oxford.

Battle of Britain. (ate Gallery)
Battle of Britain. (Tate Gallery)

1941: Nash makes a series of watercolours at “Madams”.

1942: He makes paintings at Sandlands, Boar’s Hill near Oxford where he could see the Wittenham Clumps from the garden. Sandlands at Boar’s Hill was an inspiration for his late oil paintings.

1943: He visits his retrospective at Temple Newsam House in Leeds. Makes watercolours in Derbyshire. Revisits Dorset with his friend from the First World War, Lance Sieveking and saw Maiden Castle, the giant at Cerne Abbas, Dorchester and the Isle of Portland.

1944: Nash makes his last watercolours at “Madams”. Visits Cleeve near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire and paints the views of the Malvern Hills.

1945: He paints his last oil “Eclipse of the Sunflower” and “Solstice of the Sunflower”.

When and Where did he Die?

11th July 1946, Boscombe, Hampshire, England whilst on holiday after catching pneumonia which was made worse by his long term asthma.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1923: “Places”.
1935: “Dorset Shell Guide”.
(1949): “Outline” (Autobiography).


September 1914 to Margaret Theodosia Odeh, a suffragette, at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields.

St Martin's in the Fields, London St Martin's in the Fields
St Martin’s in the Fields, London (copyright  Anthony Blagg)

Site of Grave:

Langley Parish Churchyard.

Places of Interest:


City Art Gallery, Southampton.


Bolton Art Gallery.
Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool.


Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester.


Tate Britain.
St. Martins-in-the-Fields.
Imperial War Museum.
Imperial War Museum.
South London Gallery, Peckham.


Pallant House, Chichester.


Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle.


Art Gallery, Rugby.


Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry.
Art Gallery, Dudley.


University Gallery, Leeds.
Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.
Pump Room Art Gallery, Harrogate.
Cartwright Hall, Bradford.
Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield.
Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield.


Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
Aberdeen Art Gallery.


Ulster Museum, Belfast.

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