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Paul Nash: from ancient to surreal, 5 – 1943-1945

I have just come across a charming poem about Nash’s paintings by a poet called Robert Saxton in a collection called “Flying School”. The poem is called “Aerial Flowers”.

The Eclectic Light Company

When Paul Nash was staying with Hilda Harrison in her house on Boar’s Hill, near Oxford, he could see a landscape which had come to obsess him from childhood: two hills (technically the Sinodun Hills) with clumps of trees at the top, the Wittenham Clumps. As he completed his final paintings of the Second World War, he turned to the Wittenham Clumps in series of paintings which accompanied his steadily declining health.

nashpbagleywoods Paul Nash (1892–1946), Landscape of the Bagley Woods (1943), oil on canvas, 56 x 86.3 cm, Private collection. The Athenaeum.

Not far from Boar’s Hill is an ancient wood, owned by St John’s College, Oxford, which Nash depicts in his Landscape of the Bagley Woods (1943). Using his oil paint with the subtlety of watercolour, the rolling fields of the foreground are quickly replaced by dense woodland. At the leading edge of the wood, some trees assume the…

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By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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