David Bomberg, The South-East Corner, Jerusalem, 1926, Oil on canvas Pallant House Gallery (Wilson Gift through The Art Fund, 2006) © Sir Colin St John Wilson
In the wake of the First World War (1914–1918) many British artists turned away from the mechanistic forms of abstract art that had come to be associated with the destructive forces of war and instead employed more conventional means of representation. David Bomberg and C.R.W. Nevinson, who had both been associated with the avant-garde Vorticist Group before the War, employed more traditional approaches to painting in the decades after. Like Mark Gertler, who had been a pacifist when he painted his tranquil view of Swanage in 1916, artists sought a sense of solace in the landscape.
In Britain the ‘return to order’ found its strongest expression in the depiction of landscape, a symbol of national pride and identity. In the early 20th century the countryside was undergoing rapid changes due to increasing industrialisation and sub-urbanisation. In general, artists rejected the notion of progress and were selective in their portrayal of a rural idyll that was far removed from the beaten track. Some, including Matthew Smith, Ben Nicholson and David Bomberg (all represented in the collection) journeyed to the Mediterranean and beyond to discover uncharted and unspoilt landscapes.
Key works include: 'Wittenham' (1935) by Paul Nash and 'The South East Corner of Jerusalem' (c.1926) by David Bomberg.