Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, is delighted to announce a major gift of works and correspondences by Paul Nash (11 May 1889 – 11 July 1946). One of the leading British artists of the early-twentieth century, Nash is celebrated for his lyrical depictions of the British landscape, Surrealist imagery and his work as a War Artist.
The collection, which includes important early wood engravings and etchings, photographs, collage, correspondence and illustrated books, was amassed by his great friend Clare Neilson. It has been gifted to Pallant House Gallery by her godson Jeremy Greenwood and Alan Swerdlow, through the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity that each year helps hundreds of museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. The Gift will be celebrated by an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery from 9 April to 30 June 2013 showcasing highlights from the Collection.
Clare Neilson met Paul Nash in the early 1930s, establishing an intimate friendship that was to last until Paul's death in 1946. The wealthy daughter of a stockbroker, Clare had settled in Kent with her husband Charles in 1930 where she formed a wide circle of artist friends which included Edward Burra and Paul Nash who lived in neighbouring Rye.
Clare and Paul shared a love of book collecting - and the collection contains the first letter she received from him, dated 6 August 1934 (already by then ‘My dear Clare'), in which he wrote ‘I can never thank you enough for Stukeley', in reference to William Stukeley's book on Avebury (1743), the first of many antiquarian books she found for Nash.
Later, when they moved to Gloucester, Paul Nash was a frequent visitor to their new home, Madams, and the abandoned mine workings and standing stone at Staunton in the Forest of Dean nearby provided subjects for some of the artist's best known work. The Collection includes 'Tyger, Tyger', a collage depicting a colour engraving of a tiger set against a photograph of a ruin in the Forest of Dean, bearing the words ‘Collage for Clare'.
The Collection also includes a significant group of early wood engravings including 'Tree Group' (1923), 'Promenade' (1923), 'Dyke by the Road' (1922), and 'Garden Pond' (1921), that demonstrate Nash's importance as one of the leading British landscape artists of the early-twentieth century; as well as examples of Nash's most important illustrated books such as 'Places' (1922), 'Genesis' (1924), 'Shakespeare's A Midsommer Nights Dreame' (1924), 'Mister Bosphorus and the Muses' (1923), and 'Urne Buriall and the Garden of Cyrus' (1932), many of which are personally inscribed by Nash.
Simon Martin, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at Pallant House Gallery, has said: ‘The Clare Neilson collection of Paul Nash prints, photographs, collage and books is a significant addition to Pallant House Gallery's collection of Modern British Art. Not only does it include remarkable wood engravings and collage, but it provides a fascinating and personal view into friendship and artistic patronage in the 1930s and 40s.'
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund Director said: "The Clare Neilson collection gives us an insight into the breadth of Paul Nash's artistic capabilities. We are thrilled to have worked with Neilson's godson, Jeremy Greenwood, and Alan Swerdlow in placing this collection with Pallant House Gallery."