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‘If I wanted to make a foreigner understand the mood of a typical English landscape … I would first show him a good Constable and then one or two of John Nash’s best watercolours.’

John Nash carried a landscape inside him, and most of his best work was a transcription of somewhere near or far off that was also an inner memory.[1] - Andrew Lambeth

This quintessentially English view from the river Avon was painted by John Nash, whose highly original and atmospheric depictions of the natural world are only now beginning to gain the recognition they deserve.

As indicated on the back of the painting, this scene depicts the river Avon. Nash spent the summer of 1924 and 1925 in the cities of Bath and Bristol. Critic and curator Andrew Lambirth postulates that his ventures to the South West, in particular his canal-side paintings in Bath, are ‘perhaps some of the more Cezannesque of [John Nash’s] paintings; solid structures of golden-grey stone with the fluidity of water running through them.’[2] The cultural exchange between London and Paris at this time was strongly apparent, as was the pursuit of post-impressionistic styles of painting.

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John Nash carried a landscape inside him, and most of his best work was a transcription of somewhere near or far off that was also an inner memory.[1] - Andrew Lambeth

This quintessentially English view from the river Avon was painted by John Nash, whose highly original and atmospheric depictions of the natural world are only now beginning to gain the recognition they deserve.

As indicated on the back of the painting, this scene depicts the river Avon. Nash spent the summer of 1924 and 1925 in the cities of Bath and Bristol. Critic and curator Andrew Lambirth postulates that his ventures to the South West, in particular his canal-side paintings in Bath, are ‘perhaps some of the more Cezannesque of [John Nash’s] paintings; solid structures of golden-grey stone with the fluidity of water running through them.’[2] The cultural exchange between London and Paris at this time was strongly apparent, as was the pursuit of post-impressionistic styles of painting.

Despite the artistic limitations of watercolour’s finish, Nash has also achieved a subtle textural juxtaposition between the sky and the foreground. Nash’s compositional segmentation of colour, particularly within the organic ripples of water in the foreground, offer an ephemeral atmosphere and demonstrates his acute awareness of contemporary modernist discourse concerning developments in representing three-dimensional depth in painting. This sympathetic understanding of both his subject and medium places Nash not only as the exceptional ‘artist plantsman’ to which he is often referred, but as an integral member within the development of British modernism.

Art critic, Eric Newton, wrote in 1939; ‘If I wanted to make a foreigner understand the mood of a typical English landscape … I would first show him a good Constable and then one or two of John Nash’s best watercolours.’[3] Nash’s compulsion toward nuanced simplification heeds a history of landscape painting which interprets rather than chronicles the landscape. Nash shrewdly observed the scene in front of him and extracted the essence of his environment through his brush.

[1] Lambirth, A. (2019) John Nash: Artist & Countryman. Norwich: Unicorn Press, p. 15.

[2] Lambirth, A. (2019) John Nash: Artist & Countryman. Norwich: Unicorn Press, pp. 95-96.

[3] Newton, E. (1950). In My View. London: Longmans, p. 107.

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500 Years of British Art