John Nash was a painter, wood engraver and illustrator, particularly known for his landscapes and still lives. Born in London in 1893, son of a barrister, he was the younger brother of painter Paul Nash.
Educated at Wellington College, John Nash was not academically trained in art and at first pursued a career in journalism. However, on showing signs of artistic talent, he was encouraged by his brother who advised him against a formal art school education, so as to retain his natural innocence and simplicity of style.
John Nash first exhibited in 1913 with his brother at the Dorien Leigh Gallery in South Kensington. From then he began to make his own career, his work being admired by the Fitzroy Street painters – Robert Bevan, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore. He became a member of the Friday Club in 1913 and exhibited as a founder member of the London Group in 1914. During the First World War John Nash served in the Artists Rifles 1916-1918, alongside his brother and other influential artists of the time, and became an Official War Artist in 1918.
After the war Nash lived and worked in the countryside, teaching at the Ruskin School in Oxford from 1922-7. He painted many landscapes, but also made many floral studies and paintings, producing illustrations for botanical text-books. He taught at the Royal College of Art from 1934-40 and in 1940 became both Associate Royal Academician and Official War Artist to the Admiralty. However, wanting to take a more active role in the war, he joined the Royal Marines later that year.
In 1944 Nash restarted painting and in 1945 he moved to Essex, where he rejoined the teaching staff at the Royal College of Art. In 1951 he was awarded the honour of Royal Academician. He spent his time in Essex working and painting, occasionally visiting the wilder landscapes of Wales and Yorkshire. In 1954 there was a retrospective exhibition of his work, and 10 years later he was awarded a CBE. He continued to experiment with form and colour throughout his life, until he died in 1977.