Lived in Gerrards Cross and Princes Risborough. Painted scenes of Buckinghamshire.
11th April 1893
23rd September 1977
John Nash, the younger brother of artist Paul Nash, was born in London in 1893, and educated at Wellington College. He first worked as a journalist for a local paper but was encouraged by his brother to develop his abilities as a draughtsman and went on to become one of the foremost painters of the English landscape of his generation.
From 1916-1918 he fought in World War 1 with the Artists Rifles and worked as an official war artist from 1918. His most famous war painting is Over the Top, now hanging in the Imperial War Museum, London. It is a celebrated image of the attack during which the 1st Battalion Artists Rifles left their trenches and pushed towards Marcoing near Cambrai. 68 of the 80 men were killed or injured during the first few minutes, Nash being one of the 12 spared by the shellfire. He painted this picture three months later.
Between 1918 and 1921 he lived at Gerrards Cross. During the day he and his brother Paul worked on their great war paintings at a farm near Chalfont St Peter. In the evening they sometimes relaxed by painting the local landscapes and this resulted in The Cornfield, depicting a rural scene near the Chalfonts bathed in late evening sunshine, probably John Nash’s greatest peacetime work.
In 1922 John moved with his wife Christine to the tiny hamlet of Meadle, close to Princes Risborough. They lived here for 17 years and the location, on the edge of the Chilterns, provided great inspiration for him. The escarpment with its beechwoods and the farmed landscape with its daily activities became the subject of many of his paintings.
His emotions concerning the war, however, continued to linger for many years, and this is particularly evident in The Moat, Grange Farm, Kimble, exhibited in 1922. In this brooding landscape the trees and their tendril-like branches envelope the entire picture plane.
Other Buckinghamshire scenes he painted include Kop Hill (Princes Risborough), and Landscape near Princes Risborough. His work can be seen at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, and Tate Britain, London.
By 1939 John and Christine had left Meadle and were living in East Anglia. He started World War 11 in the Observer Corps, moving to the Admiralty as an official war artist with the rank of Captain in the Royal Marines in 1940. He was promoted Acting Major in 1943 and relinquished his commission in November 1944. He spent his remaining years in Wormingford on the Suffolk/Essex border and died in 1977 in Colchester.
John Nash by Sir John Rothenstein, published by The Book Service in 1983.
Visit the Tate Britain website for images of the John Nash paintings in their collection, including The Cornfield.
Ellesborough & Kimble circular walk, Bucks. 6.5 mile route, goes past the Old Grange farmhouse, and the two existing sides of the moat.