Paul Nash (1889-1946)
Sunflower and Sun
oil on canvas
25 x 20 in. (63.5 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1945.
Margot Eates, and by inheritance, to the present owner's mother, circa 1994.
M. Eates, Paul Nash 1889-1946, London, 1973, p. 137, pl. 125.
A. Causey, Paul Nash, Oxford, 1980, p. 470, no. 1228.

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Lot Essay

Towards the end of his life Paul Nash was preoccupied with the subject of the sunflower and sun, and his last pictures resulted in a series of depictions of the subject. Other works of this subject include Eclipse of the Sunflower, 1945 (British Council) and Solstice of the Sunflower, 1945 (National Gallery of Canada). These demonstrate, as does the present work, the relationship between the two: it is a 'union of life and life-giver, flower and sun' (Causey, op. cit., p. 335).

Richard Seddon recalls how, towards the end of his life, Nash had referred to a passage from William Blake's poem Ah! Sunflower: 'Ah! Sunflower, weary of time,/Who countest the steps of the sun;/Seeking after that sweet golden clime, Where the traveller's journey is done' ('Paul Nash', Studio, March 1948, vol. 135, no. 600, p. 74). Nash was preoccupied with the subject of the sunflower and sun as a way of coming to terms with his mortality, and as a celebration of his life and work. As this recollection of Blake's poem suggests, Nash felt an affinity with and empathy towards the sunflower, which in Blake's poem also appears to be nearing the end of its life. He uses it as a symbol for himself and through his depiction of nature expresses his own deepest emotions and experiences, as he had always done in his art.

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