- Museum number
Dymchurch, sea wall; coastal barrier composed of steps climbing upwards to right, beyond at left sea, in distance mares tails. 1925
Graphite, chalk and watercolour on coarse beige paper
- Production date
Height: 333 millimetres
Width: 510 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The present work is one of thirty drawings by Paul Nash in the British Museum's collections. Made in 1925, it is one of Nash's last watercolours of Dymchurch (for more information about Nash and Dymchurch, see curator's comment 1954,0610.18). Nash's fascination with the Kentish coastal village's great sea wall that had fuelled his inspiration since 1919 had begun to fade in 1924. The artist had an important one man exhibition (the first since 1919) at the Leicester Galleries (London) that year and its great success brought on frequent shows that took Nash away from Dymchurch. In December the Nashes travelled to France then Italy and only came back to Kent in April 1925. During this trip, Nash mentioned Dymchurch in a letter to Bertram (2 March) stating 'I shall never work there anymore' (Causey, p. 112). Indeed, shortly after their return to Kent in April (time where Nash probably painted the present watercolour), Margaret Nash had a miscarriage and the couple moved to Iden. 'Dymchurch, sea wall' was drawn on a coarse beige tinted paper which Nash began to experiment with in 1925 and was first exhibited in Manchester, at the New English Art Club's 71st exhibition in April 1925 (no. 177) under the title 'Dymchurch', although Causey remained cautious as to this particular exhibition history.
Causey separated Nash's Dymchurch series into two periods, the first between 1919 and 1923 and the second between 1923 and 1925. In his catalogue raisonné, he stated that, starting 1923, one could discern a distinct change of mood through his works: 'a lowering of the emotional key, calmer seas, a broader and more open view of the wall' (p. 123). However, the present watercolour, with its rolling waters, seems to join 'The Wall' (unknown location) of 1924 as one of the rare exceptions that Causey noted. The attention to structure and geometry that one observes in this composition betrays Nash's growing interest in abstraction, which he would further explore in the following decade. The art critic John Rothenstein noted that the artist's most successful drawings made during his Dymchurch days 'are those in which a clear-cut, in some respect tending to abstract, design was imposed on his motif' (p. 4-5).
- Roger Cardinal, 'The Landscape Vision of Paul Nash', London 1989.
- Andrew Causey, 'Paul Nash', Oxford 1980.
- David Boyd Haycock, 'Paul Nash: Watercolours 1910-1946', exh. Cat. Piano Nobile, London, 2014.
- Leonard Robinson, 'Paul Nash: Winter Sea. The development of an image', York, 1997.
- John Rothenstein, 'Paul Nash', London 1967.
[This entry was written by Catherine Boël, Anne Christopherson Fellow in the Department of Prints and Drawings, December 2016.]
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1925 Apr, Manchester, New English Art Club 71st Exhibition and Retrospective, cat. 177?
1925 Nov, London, Mayor Gallery, Watercolours by Paul Nash, cat. 15?
1925, London, Contemporary Art Society Exhibition of Modern Paintings and Drawings, cat. 31
1960 April, London, Tate Gallery, The First Fifty Years: The 50th Anniversary Exhibition of the Contemporary Art Society, cat. 123
1975, London, Tate Gallery, Paul Nash, cat.91
2013 23 Mar-30 Jun, Saffron Walden, Fry Art Gallery, An Outbreak of Talent
2017 23 Feb-27 Aug, London, BM, G90, Places of the Mind: British Landscape watercolours 1850-1950
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Acquired by the CAS in 1925, and given to the BM in 1932.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number