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Paul Nash (1899-1946)
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Paul Nash (1899-1946)

Ghost in the Shale

Paul Nash (1899-1946)
Ghost in the Shale
signed 'Paul Nash' (lower left)
pencil and watercolour
15 x 21½ in. (38.1 x 54.6 cm.)
Executed in 1942.
H.J. Paterson, by whom purchased at the 1942 exhibition.
M. Eates, Paul Nash, Master of the Image, London, 1973, p. 80, pl. 118b, illustrated.
A. Causey, Paul Nash, Oxford, 1980, p. 458, no. 1100, pl. 551, illustrated.
P. Denton, Paul Nash in Swanage, Swanage, 2002, p. 91, no. 75.
London, Redfern Gallery, Paul Nash, New Watercolour and Others of Various Dates, June 1942, no. 35.
Leeds, Temple Newsam House, Nash - Hepworth Exhibition, June 1943, no. 56.
Paris, British Council, British Painters 1939-1946, 1946, no. 33.
London, Tate Gallery and Arts Council, travelling exhibition, Paul Nash: A Memorial Exhibition, March 1948, no. 130.
London, Redfern Gallery, Paul Nash, April 1961, no. 61.
Poole, Poole Museum, Paul Nash in Dorset, November 1996 - March 1997, catalogue not traced.
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Lot Essay

Nash wrote of the present work in his book Picture History, which was never published, 'Now I was looking round for a new form and character of object-personage. This came to me eventually in a round-about way through studying a book on paleontology. Looking at the engraved plates of fossil impressions, it seemed to me these delicate, evocative forms could be revitalised in a particular way. I made a series of drawings of ghost personages, which showed them in the environment they naturally occupied in pre-history. The Ghost in the Shale in the Black Cliff of Kimmeridge clay. The turtle on the Dorset Shore, the gigantic ghost of Megacerous Hibernicus (Irish Elk) in the Moonlight forest' (see A. Bertram, Paul Nash, The Portrait of an Artist, London, 1955, p. 285).

In his 1955 monograph on the artist, Anthony Bertram notes that 'He [Nash] was pursuing the absent back to the dim beginnings of animal life, to long before man left his megaliths and earthworks as "footprints" but used the very form of the absent, the petrified being itself. He could come closer to it, because it had been so long dead' (ibid., p. 286).

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