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October 2010: John Nash (1893-1977) A selection of 26 Woodcuts and Wood Engravings

This selection of works includes prints produced over the period 1919 to 1931. They demonstrate not only his mastery of the medium but also his love of the countryside; the landscape, animals, plants and traditions of rural life.  There are also some domestic scenes alongside book illustrations with more literary themes such as his work for the Cresset Press's 'Apocryha', 1929, and for Christopher Marlowe's 'Ovid's Elegies', 1925.


John Nash was born in London in 1893. He never formally trained at art school but from an early age he pursued his artistic interests, first in drawing and watercolour and later in wood-engraving. The Nash family moved from urban London to the Buckingham countryside while John was young so he gained a keen appreciation for the local landscape and nature. He was also a passionate observer of people and had a sharp eye for the humourous elements of human behaviour, this found expression in early comic cartoons but is also evident in his later prints as well.

Nash first exhibited with his brother Paul at the Dorien Leigh Gallery in London (1913), then with the Camden Town Group (1913-14) and soon after the London Group at the Goupil Gallery (1915). Due to the success of these early exhibitions he was invited to become an official war artist and he went on to produce some of the most memorable images of the First World War.

Nash was also an accomplished print maker. A founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers (formed 1920), he produced many woodcuts and wood engravings as both decorations for literary periodicals and as illustrations to private press books. He submitted an article to London Mercury in 1920 entitled ‘The History of the Woodcut’. Nash wrote, ‘Engraving demands a tight control and respectful deliberation. Moreover, the design must be carefully planned out beforehand and the engraver should know exactly what he is about to do within the limit of his block. Here chance and extemporare decisions, happy or otherwise, are the last elements to depend on’.

As well as working as an artist Nash was also a teacher, first at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford (1924-29) and then at the Royal College of Art in London (1934-1957) where he met both Ravilious and Bawden with whom he became close friends.

Nash was elected Royal Academician in 1951, and received the C.B.E in 1964. He died in September 1977. His work can be found in major art collections around the world.

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Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Sheep and Lambs', Wood Engraving, 1919.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Women Sewing', Wood Engraving, 1920.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Horses Grazing 4', Wood Engraving, 1920
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'BABS', Wood Engraving, 1923.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Paradise' or 'In Mortem Pistacci', Wood Engraving, 1925.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Ad Amicam, Ut Ad Rura Sua Remiat, Wood Engraving, 1925.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'The Apocrypha', Wood Engraving, 1929.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'The Fisherman', Wood Engraving, 1931/78.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Still life', Wood Engraving, 1923.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Transmutation, Celeste', Wood Engraving, 1929.
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'Tailpiece', Wood Engraving, 1925
Nash, John (1893-1977), 'The Book Of The Tree, frontispiece', Wood Engraving, 1927/1978.
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