John Nash R.A. biography in Biographies from the artzine on artrepublic.com
John Nash is the younger brother of artist Paul Nash and he is also famous for his work as a war artist during WWI. He had a great love of nature and used natural subjects to convey powerful ideas concerning the human condition. As well as painting he was a founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers.
John Nash had no formal art training and was put off going to art school by his older brother but Paul still supported him in perusing his artistic talent informally. His family moved from London to the countryside early in his life which set in place his enduring love of the countryside.
It was here he met fellow artist Claughton Pellew who encouraged his interests in watercolour, and in the painting of the natural world. Before the war he had successful exhibitions in London and it was as a result of these he was asked by the War Propaganda Bureau to become an Official War Artist.
John Nash’s most famous painting is Over the Top which hangs in the Imperial War Museum, London. It is an image of the 30 December 1917 Welsh Ridge counter-attack, during which the 1st Battalion Artists Rifles left their trenches and pushed towards Marcoing near Cambrai. Nash was one of twelve spared by the shell-fire, and painted this picture three months later.
After World War I, Nash returned to painting landscapes, but emotions concerning the war continued to linger for many years and emerged in his landscape painting. This can be seen in works such as The Cornfield which was Nash’s first work of 1918 not to feature war. It stands as a powerful symbol of what was being fought for and the many sacrifices made.
Nash was an early member of The Society of Wood Engravers and he produced a body of wood engraved illustrations with a particular emphasis on the portrayal of botanical subjects. John Nash was elected Royal Academician in 1951, and received the C.B.E in 1964. He died in September 1977.