Founded in 1936, the British Surrealist group, like their European counterparts were inspired by the subconscious as explored by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud

1 of 3
  • Paul Nash, 'Landscape from a Dream' 1936-8

    Paul Nash
    Landscape from a Dream 1936-8
    Oil on canvas
    support: 679 x 1016 mm frame: 754 x 883 x 70 mm
    Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1946 Tate

    View the main page for this artwork

  • Ithell Colquhoun, 'Scylla' 1938

    Ithell Colquhoun
    Scylla 1938
    Oil on board
    support: 914 x 610 mm frame: 1004 x 706 x 69 mm
    Purchased 1977 The estate of Ithell Colquhoun, courtesy The National Trust, Bodmin

    View the main page for this artwork

  • Edward Wadsworth, 'The Beached Margin' 1937

    Edward Wadsworth
    The Beached Margin 1937
    Tempera on linen laid on wood
    support: 711 x 1016 mm
    Purchased 1938 Tate

    View the main page for this artwork

Its chief organising figures were the poet and critic Herbert Read, the poet and artist David Gascoyne, the artist Paul Nash, and the artist and collector Roland Penrose.

Soon after forming in 1936, they organised the First International Surrealist Exhibition in London which attracted huge public attention. At the opening Salvador Dalí gave a lecture from inside a deep-sea diving suit.

Nash probably made the most significant artistic contribution to British surrealism, and there are powerful surrealist elements in the work of Henry Moore at that time. Other artists, in the group, included Eileen Agar, John Armstrong, John Banting, Ithell Colquhoun, Conroy Maddox, E.L.T. Mesens, Julian Trevelyan.

In 1947 the British group merged with the French one.