Paul Nash

Three Rooms


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Not on display

Paul Nash 1889–1946
Graphite, crayon and watercolour on paper
Support: 392 × 297 mm
frame: 716 × 566 × 23 mm
Purchased 1981

Display caption

This work reflects Nash’s renewed commitment to the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. It shows three interrelated rooms invaded by the sky, a forest and the sea. The air of strangeness and the combination of disparate elements is typical of much Surrealist painting and writing. The mysterious symbolism also recalls the work of William Blake.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03205 THREE ROOMS 1937

Not inscribed
Pencil, crayon and watercolour on paper, 15 1/2 × 11 5/8 (39.2 × 29.7)
Purchased from the Edward James
Foundation through James Kirkman Ltd. (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Prov: Edward James; Edward James Foundation
Exh: Watercolours, Drawings, Collages and Objects by Paul Nash, Redfern Gallery, April 1937 (46); New Paintings by Paul Nash, Leicester Galleries, May 1938 (3); Paul Nash's Camera, Arts Council Gallery and provincial tour, 1951 (53); Edward James Collection of Surrealist Paintings, South London Art Gallery, March–April 1965 (50); Thirty Years of Surrealist Painting from the Edward James Collection, Brighton Art Gallery, April–May 1967 (50); Paul Nash 1889–1946, Northern Arts Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, September 1971 (27, repr.); Paul Nash: Paintings and Watercolours, Tate Gallery, November–December 1975 and Arts Council tour to City Art Gallery, Plymouth, The Minories, Colchester, Cartwright Memorial Hall, Bradford, and City Art Gallery, Manchester, January–May 1976 (166)
Lit: Andrew Causey in exh. catalogue Paul Nash 1889–1946, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1971, pp.19 and 20; Andrew Causey, Paul Nash, Oxford 1980, no.916, pp.281–2, 440,
Repr: Margot Eates, Paul Nash: The Master of the Image 1889–1946, 1973, pl.68a in colour

The combination of three separate images in this watercolour is unique in Paul Nash's work. He seems to have based the design on a plate in the Abbé Dubreuil's The Practice of perspective, 1726, which shows a cross section of three floors of a building (repr.Causey, op.cit., pl.329). Nash owned a copy of this book which was almost certainly in his possession by 1937.

'Three Rooms’ belongs to the same small series of room paintings as ‘Harbour and Room’ (T03206), and the bottom section, with the sea flooding into a room, has some similarity to the latter.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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