Paul Nash Lot 169
Paul Nash (1889-1946)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Paul Nash (1889-1946)

Objects in a Field

Paul Nash (1889-1946)
Objects in a Field
signed 'Paul Nash' (lower right)
pencil, watercolour and gouache
22 ½ x 14 in. (57.2 x 35.5 cm.)
Executed in 1936.
James Thurber, New York, 1938, and by descent.
The Listener, 12 May 1937.
News Chronicle, 7 June 1937.
A. Causey, Paul Nash, Oxford, 1980, p. 436, no. 882, pl. 538.
London, London Gallery, January 1937, no. 40, catalogue not traced.
London, Redfern Gallery, Oils, prints, drawings, watercolours: by contemporary artists, August - September 1937, no. 63.
London, Mayor Gallery, Water-colours by modern French and English artists, November 1937, no. 4.
London, Leicester Galleries, New Paintings by Paul Nash, May 1938, no. 6a, ex-catalogue.
Paris, Galérie des Beaux-Arts, International Surrealist Exhibition, January - February 1938, no. 155.
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Pippa Jacomb
Pippa Jacomb

Lot Essay

The trough-shaped concrete object in this painting derived from a photograph Nash took when coming across it in a field, its incongruous presence within the landscape clearly appealing to him. His work repeatedly addressed the theme of man-made objects within the landscape, and their effect: his depiction of the sea wall at Dymchurch; the monoliths at Avebury; and the damaged German bombers lying in a dump at Cowley which inspired his Second World War painting Totes Meer (Tate, London). After his experience at Avebury he wrote ‘I’ve read somewhere that certain primitive peoples coming across a large block of stone in their wanderings would worship it as a god – which is easy to understand, for there’s a sense of immense power about a large rough-shaped lump of rock or stone’ (letter of 15 September 1933, cited in A. Causey, op. cit., p. 253).

The incompatibility of the object within its environment, and its unexplained presence, allowed it to assume an alternative character. Nash was naturally drawn to Surrealism, writing that ‘It has given me inspiration & refreshment of mind’ (letter to Herbert Read, 12 July 1942, cited in A. Causey, op. cit., p. 263). In addition to his paintings he made ‘Surrealist objects’ at this time, combining his own photographs with found objects. He used his photograph of the trough as part of the background in Only Egg, one of a series of collaged objects which was made up of two flints, shale and two photographs in a wooden box.

James Thurber (1894-1961) was an American cartoonist, author and journalist. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories which were published in The New Yorker magazine, most notably The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, published in 1939.

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