There is another watercolour of The Severn associated with this one, a simpler composition, which, with the present work, was the source of Nash’s visionary oil, Monster Shore, 1939. Note the way the artist has reinterpreted the river, sands and sky in a series of long horizontals, with the line of the hills echoing through each of the three. The Severn Bore near Pimlico Sands is an altogether darker work, foregrounded by the sawn-off stump of a tree (an acknowledged Nash symbol of death), which reappears in Monster Shore. For Nash, there was something sinister about the untamed power of the bore, the dramatic surge wave created by the rising tide in the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary. The use of repeated horizontal lines, a strategy of pictorial construction he favoured, is reminiscent of the Dymchurch paintings from the 1920s, and such early masterpieces as The Shore, 1923, Leeds Art Gallery, and Winter Sea, 1925-37, in York Art Gallery. The insistent rhythms of land and water which forge across it make this elegantly and crisply expressed watercolour a powerful statement of elemental forces.
We are very grateful to Andrew Lambirth for preparing this catalogue entry.