A Berkshire Hillside

John Northcote Nash (1893 - 1977)

Oil on canvas

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  • About the work
    Location
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall

    The confident division of the landscape into vertical and diagonal forms, combined with a rich mixture of colour – greens, greys, pale yellow and blue and a hint of orangey red – give this painting the feel of a patchwork quilt. The painting is stylised: there is no attempt at making the smoke that rises in the distance look ‘real’ and all naturalistic details have been eliminated. Instead, the artist John Northcote Nash has focused on creating an evocative, harmonious composition. There is a certain stillness in this, and in many of Nash’s paintings, which succeed in capturing a sense of permanence in a particular moment in time.


    Nash knew the Berkshire landscape well. He was educated at Langley Place in Slough and later at Wellington College; and his first job was as a newspaper reporter for the Middlesex and Berkshire Gazette, in 1910. 


    During both World Wars, Nash was an Official War Artist, and his paintings during the late 1940s reveal an affinity and admiration for the British countryside. His decision to focus on British landscape at a period shortly after the War mirrors the approach of his contemporary, John Piper (1903–1992), the Neo-Romantic artist who, in the 1930s, painted buildings and places that were under threat from war-time destruction.


  • About the artist
    John Nash, painter, wood engraver and illustrator was born in London, and was the younger brother of the British artist Paul Nash (1889–1946), with whom he shared his first exhibition at the Dorien Leigh Galleries in 1913. After serving with the Artists Rifles and working as Official War Artist between 1916 and 1918, John became the first art critic of the London Mercury magazine in 1919. He also taught art at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, and the Royal College of Art, London, during the 1920s and 30s. Although often associated with landscape painting, Nash was also a prolific book illustrator who specialised in botanical drawing and knowledge of plant types. Nash became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1940 and a full member in 1951. He was awarded a CBE in 1964. His retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1967 was the first for a living painter.
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  • Details
    Title
    A Berkshire Hillside
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 70.00 cm, width: 75.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Leicester Galleries, July 1968
    Inscription
    none
    Provenance
    Sold through Sotheby’s on 14 February 1955; from which sale purchased by Leicester Galleries, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in August 1968, as ‘Berkshire Landscape’
    GAC number
    8171