Paul Nash

Sketch for ‘Lavengro and Isopel in the Dingle’


Paul Nash 1889–1946
Gouache on paper
Support: 267 x 216 mm
Purchased 1975

Not on display

Catalogue entry


Inscribed on back:t.r. ‘Paul Nash’ (biro) ‘Sketch design for Lavengro and
Isopel in The Dingle’ (pencil) 1911? ‘Lavengro is Rupert Lee Isobel (sic) is Mercia Oakley’ (biro)
Gouache, 10 1/2×8 1/2 (26.7×21.6)
Purchased from Mrs Bertha James (Gytha Trust) 1975
Coll: Philip James; Mrs Bertha James

This is a gouache study for T01782. The subject of Lavengro and Isopel was one particularly in Nash's mind in 1911–12. (For further details and the history of Nash's interest in this subject see Tate Gallery Report 1972–4 , pp.211–14). T.1945 was probably executed in March–April 1912, i.e. six months after his interest in the subject began. The models for the two figures were two of his friends, Rupert Lee and Mercia Oakley.

T01945 differs in a number of details from the final sketch, although the general disposition of the figures is the same in both works. The three major alterations are the changing of Lavengro's position as well as revisions to the background and the lighting. Lavengro is moved from the immediate foreground to the middle of the sketch thus highlighting his task of introducing Isopel to the spectator, which he now does with his left hand. Between the two sketches there is an increase in the delineation of the background and the treatment of the lighting is more naturalistic, helping to describe and model the figures. Both the changes in the lighting and background between the two studies indicate that T01972 is the earliest study.

The writing on the verso of T01945 is in two different hands. ‘Sketch–1911?’ is in Paul Nash's handwriting, but according to Andrew Causey (letter to the compiler 23 May 1976) ‘it is almost certainly not contemporary’. The other hand is Margaret Nash's, and the correction to the spelling of ‘Isobel’ is probably also by Margaret Nash as she often corrected Paul Nash's spelling.

Apart from references to Lavengro and Isopel included in the entry for T01782 (op.cit) there is one further reference that has recently been uncovered, in a sketchbook which Nash was using when he lived at Eldon Road, Hampstead (Tate Archives). The date at the beginning of the sketchbook is c.1938. One page in the sketchbook is headed ‘Exhibition of Industrial Design and Book Decoration, Oliver Simon Gallery’. Under this heading is a list of ‘Bookplates’, the first title reads ‘Lavengro and Isopel? Sadler’. There is no further record to substantiate a bookplate design by Nash of Lavengro and Isopel. However, it would appear that

T01782, the version owned by Michael Sadler, was at some stage considered as a project for a bookplate design.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978