Correspondence to Paul Nash from Edward Burra and Alexander Calder

Scope and Content

Nash met Burra in 1925 when he was living at Iden, near Rye in Sussex. They became friends and in the late 1920s and early 1930s holidayed together in France. Burra wrote to Nash often, sending amusing and sometimes illustrated letters. The two letters from Calder refer to a mobile which Nash acquired from him in 1936 and Calder's involvement in an exhibition with Nash.

Administrative / Biographical History

Paul Nash was born in London on 11 May 1889, son of William Harry Nash, late Recorder of Abingdon. He was educated at St. Paul's School, and originally was 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. 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. After that Nash developed rapidly with changes of style and medium, but always retaining 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.


Letters from Burra arranged chronologically and followed by two letters from Calder.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered users.

Custodial History

Presented by The Paul Nash Trust, 1979.