The Garden at Wood Lane House, Iver Heath, 1912

by Paul Nash

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DIMENSIONS: (unframed)13.5 x 9.76 in./ 34. 3 x 24.8 cm
SIGNATURE: Monogrammed ‘PN’ and signed ‘Nash’ lower right
MEDIUM: Watercolour and pencil

Here, Nash has depicted the gardens of his parents’ home Wood Lane House at Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire. The property had been specially built for the family in 1901 and included a plot of about an acre and a half, bordered by great elm trees and carefully planted with maturing shrubbery. The morning room, which Nash used as a studio, looked over what became known as the ‘Bird Garden’ and has been described by Roger Cardinal as ‘where it all began’ (R. Cardinal, The Landscape Vision of Paul Nash, London, 1989, p.63).

Catalogue No: 4827 Categories: ,

Nash’s early watercolours of summer trees and gardens are amongst his most obviously romantic, though the frequent absence of figures often gives them an air of melancholy or mystery. Though an enigmatic impression is less obvious in this particular work, the art historian Andrew Causey wrote that the ‘wheeling birds over many of Nash’s landscapes are his emblems of freedom and release from the uncertainty and changeability of life.’ Describing this period of his artistic development in his autobiography, Outline, Nash wrote of an attempt ‘to introduce a sleeping woman’ into a landscape of a cornfield ‘but the elements would not agree. It was really a cast back to D[ante] G[abriel] R[ossetti] but my nostalgia let me in for such complicated and dangerous processes of elimination in getting rid of the body that I learned a lesson there and then. Figures cannot easily be introduced into landscape. From the first conception they must be an integral part of the structure of the composition.’

In 1933 the critic Frank Rutter would recall the ‘curious-child-like charm’ of these pre-War watercolours of English landscapes by Nash and his brother. ‘They were extraordinarily innocent in their vision and simple in their handling and construction’, he wrote, ‘yet their simplicity was not at all the kind of simplification which passed current in Paris; it was something essentially English, distantly connected with the Pre-Raphealite outlook, only pruned of their passion for irrelevant details.’

Acquired directly from the artist’s exhibition in 1914;

Private Collection, United Kingdom

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