Correspondence and papers of Paul Nash and his wife Margaret

Scope and Content

Paul Nash is best known for his English landscapes in oil and watercolour, but he was also a photographer and writer. This collection consists largely of his personal and business correspondence during the 1930s and early 1940s, and the correspondence of his wife Margaret, from his death in 1946, when she took on the job of protecting and furthering his reputation, until her death in 1960. There are also a number of Paul's personal documents including his passport, sketches and the Nash family history; copies of draft and published articles and books by or about Paul Nash, including 'Room and Book' and 'Outline' his autobiography; and a selection of exhibition catalogues and private view cards.

Paul's correspondence concerns his work as a war artist for the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Information; his involvement in the Arts Bureau in Oxford for War Service and the Artists' International Association; his designs for Cresta Silks; the publication of his article 'Aerial Flowers', the Chiswick Press and Counterpoint; his autobiography 'Outline'; and Herbert Read's monograph on Paul published by Penguin Books. A significant porportion of the correspondence concerns the sale, exhibition and reproduction of his works through various official bodies or galleries including the British Council, Central Institute for Art and Design, Kenneth Clark and the National Gallery, C.E.M.A., Richard de la Mare and Faber & Faber, Oliver Brown and the Leicester Galleries, Rex Nan Kivell and the Redfern Gallery, Richard Seddon and Paul's agent, Arthur Tooth's and Sons.

Margaret's correspondence also concerns the sale, exhibition and reproduction of various of Paul's works; the preparation and arrangement of the Paul Nash memorial concert, exhibition and volume 'Paul Nash: Paintings, Drawings and Illustrations' by Margot Eates, (Lund Humphries, 1948); the publication of 'Aerial Flowers' (Counterpoint, 1947), 'Outline' (Faber & Faber, 1949), 'Fertile Image' a book of Paul's photographs edited by Margaret (Faber & Faber, 1951) and 'Paul Nash: Portrait of an artist' a biography by Anthony Bertram (Faber & Faber, 1955); her donation of negatives and photographs of Paul's works to the Courtauld Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum; and her health, financial situation, will and the Paul Nash Trust. Other major correspondents with Margaret include Philip James and the Arts Council, the British Council, Roger Boulton, David Bland and Richard de la Mare of Faber & Faber, Peter Gregory of Lund Humphries, Oliver Brown of the Leicester Galleries, Manchester Art Gallery, Herbert Read, Richard Seddon, the Soho Gallery, the Tate Gallery and John Rothenstein, Richard Smart, Dudley Tooth and Peter Cochrane of Arthur Tooth and Sons, George Wingfield Digby of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Zwemmer Gallery.

Administrative / Biographical History

Paul Nash was born in London on 11 May 1889, the son of William Harry Nash, late Recorder of Abingdon. He was educated at St. Paul's School, and was originally going to join the Navy. His earliest artistic training was at the Chelsea Polytechnic and the L.C.C. school, from which he went to the Slade School of Art between 1910-1911. In 1914, shortly after marrying Margaret Theodosia Odeh, he enlisted in The Artists Rifles, from which he received a commission in The Hampshire Regiment. Though he had exhibited drawings in 1911, Nash first came into prominence in June 1917, when during convalescence from a broken rib received in the trenches, he showed at the Goupil Gallery a collection of landscape drawings made in the Ypres Salient. They made a huge impact, and when Nash returned to France it was as an official war artist.

Nash developed rapidly with changes of style and medium, but always retained the same general attitude to nature from simplified forms, through geometrical shapes to surrealist images. Nash also acted as a designer for industry using a wide range of crafts and materials - textiles, wood, glass, china, book production, posters and stage design and costumes. His ideas on modernity in design were enunciated with the foundation in 1933 of 'Unit One'; a group of painters, sculptors, and architects pledged to the expression of the contemporary spirit in their work. For a time Nash was a member of the New English Art Club, the London Group, the London Artists' Association, the Modern English Watercolour Society and the International Society of Wood-engravers, but when 'Unit One' was formed it was announced that he had resigned from all other groups and societies. In 1933, he was elected a member of the Council for Art and Industry, having been president of the Society of Industrial Artists in the previous year. He was also visiting instructor to the School of Design at the Royal College of Art. In 1940 Nash was appointed an official war artist to the Air Ministry, and in 1941 to the Ministry of Information. Paul Nash died on 11 July 1946.


The collection has been arranged in three sections: the correspondence of Paul Nash, the correspondence of Margaret Nash, and a collection of Paul's personal documents, articles, exhibition catalogues and press cuttings. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and chronologically within the alphabetical order.

Reference numbers TGA 7050/774, 895-905 and 950 have not been used.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers

Other Finding Aids

Paper list available.

Alternative Form Available

The collection is available on microfiche, under 'Nash, Paul'.

Custodial History

Presented by the Trustees of the Paul Nash Estate, September 1970.

Related Material

Tate Archive holds a number of other collections relating to Paul Nash, including: copies of articles by Nash and lineblock prints (TGA 8127); a small collection of his writings, artwork, correspondence and photographs (TGA 769); a collection of Paul and Margaret's postcards and details of Nash family history (TGA 7127); books by or about Paul Nash (TGA 964); and some of Nash's painting equipment (TGA 8521). Correspondence between Paul Nash, Edward Burra and Alexander Calder (TGA 795); correspondence between Paul Nash and PH Wilenski (TGA 8123); correspondence between Albert Rutherston and Paul and John Nash (TAM 52); correspondence between Paul and Margaret Nash and the Redfern Gallery, including designs for the Curwen Press and reproductions of works by Paul Nash (TAM 37); collection of 1267 photographic negatives taken by Paul Nash (TGA 7050PH); collection of Barbara Nash's correspondence and details of Nash family history (TGA 855); collection of John Nash's personal papers and correspondence (TGA 8910); and papers of the Paul Nash Trust (TGA 20006).


Geographical Names