Paul Nash

Landscape from a Dream


Not on display

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 679 × 1016 mm
frame: 904 × 1244 × 119 mm
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1946

Display caption

This painting marks the culmination of Nash’s personal response to Surrealism, of which he had been aware since the late 1920s. As the title suggests, it echoes the Surrealists’ fascination with Freud’s theories of the power of dreams to reveal the unconscious. Nash explained that various elements were symbolic: the self-regarding hawk belongs to the material world, while the spheres reflected in the mirror refer to the soul. Typically, Nash set this scene on the coast of Dorset, unearthing the uncanny within the English landscape.

Gallery label, September 2013

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Paul Nash’ b.l.
Canvas, 26 3/4×40 (68×101·5).
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1946.
Coll: Purchased by the C.A.S. from the artist through the Leicester Galleries 1938.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, May–June 1938 (40); Gordon Fraser Gallery, Cambridge, 1939 (2); British Council, Contemporary British Art, New York World's Fair, 1939 (85), Canadian tour, Boston and Chicago, 1939–40 (85), and Toledo, 1942 (58, repr. p.54); Tate Gallery, March–May 1948 (49).
Lit: Eates, 1948, p.79, repr. pl.94 (in colour); E. H. Ramsden, ‘Paul Nash as Landscape Painter’ in Eates, 1948, p.32; Bertram, 1955, pp.247–8; Digby, 1955, pp.172–6, repr. pl.48; Rothenstein, 1961, at pl.7, repr. (in colour).
Repr: Read, 1944, pl.18; Architectural Review, CII, 1947, p.74; Studio, CXXXV, 1948, p.69 (in colour); Carlos Peacock, Painters and Writers, 1949, pl.95 (in colour).pl.48; Rothenstein, 1961, at pl.7, repr. (in colour).

On the back there is a painting of the foot of a tree with plants.

Exhibited in 1938 as having been painted in that year but listed in the catalogue of the exhibition of Contemporary British Art, Rosenberg and Helft, January–February 1937 (14), with a note saying that ‘owing to influenza Mr Paul Nash regrets that No.14 “Landscape from a Dream” is unfinished and exhibits instead.... ’ An almost identical study in watercolour was exhibited at the Redfern Gallery, April–May 1937 (23), as of ‘1937’; it now belongs to Mrs Waters (repr. Architects Journal, LXXXV, 1937, p.816).

The way in which the balls of dried grass echo the red sun may be compared with the juxtaposition of the two spheres in N05392, while the repetition of the motif by its reflection in a mirror recalls N06024. The stone hawk, which is contrasted to the flying hawk seen in the mirror, was painted from an Egyptian carving now on the artist's grave.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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