Furniture such as couches, chairs, bookcases and tables …
involve planes, horizontal, vertical and inclined, angles,
right, acute and obtuse, directions, divisions, dimensions
and recessions; contrasts of masses, light and shade – in
fact, the basic material for creating the structural harmony.
–Paul Nash, Room and Book, 1932
The still life in an interior setting became an important subject for Nash from the mid-1920s and in 1927 he wrote: ‘still life fascinates me, nothing can be quite so absorbing or so fascinating to paint’. His work evolved from a naturalistic treatment of this theme to an exploration of the intersection of geometrical forms to create multiple perspectives as he began to explore cubist ideas of space and engage with abstraction and surrealism. His compositions of plant forms juxtaposed with mirrors, open windows and architectural structures explored the relationship between interior and exterior and between organic and architectural forms. Nash’s use of reflections, intersecting planes and multiple perspectives became increasingly abstract. He also began to depict arrangements of everyday objects, creating a mysterious proto-surrealist atmosphere from elements of observed reality combined in an unexpected way. He exhibited several of these works in the exhibition Recent Developments in British Painting, held at Tooth’s in October 1931 which positioned him as a member of the modern movement in Britain rather than a landscape painter. In 1931 he worked on a major book project illustrating Sir Thomas Browne’s philosophical discourses, Urne Buriall and The Garden of Cyrus, both of 1658.