An image of Sunflower and sun

Paul Nash

(England 11 May 1889 – 11 Jul 1946)

Sunflower and sun

Not on display
Further information

Throughout his career Paul Nash was fascinated by landscapes but is best remembered for his work as a war artist, serving in the first and second world wars. He was greatly influenced by the European avant-garde styles of abstraction and surrealism and was one of the founding members of the short lived Unit One, a group of painters, sculptors and architects that included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, and who helped to revive English art in the interwar years.

'Sunflower and sun' is one of a series of works inspired by the view from Sandlands on Boars Hill near Oxford overlooking the Bagley Woods and taking in the Wittenham Clumps. Writing in 'Picture History' 1945 Nash said 'Thus in the second picture, 'Sunflower and Sun', over a scene of wooded landscape dominated by twin hills, crowned with clumps of dense trees, a shaft of sunlight breaking through the cloud falls across the form of a giant sunflower bowed by the wind. I cannot explain this picture. It means only what it says. Its design was evolved from the actual landscape under much the same atmospheric conditions. There was such a sunflower and some such effect of sunlight. All the elements of this picture were present in more or less degree. But the drama of the event, which implies the mystical association of the sun and the sunflower, is heightened by the two opposing ellipses and by the other echoing forms of the sky which retaliate with the same apparent movement of outspread wings made by the leaves of the flower'.

oil on canvas
51.1 x 76.5 cm stretcher; 67.5 x 93.1 x 7.3 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed l.r., pink paint "PN" (in monogram). Not dated.

Gift of the Contemporary Art Society, London 1944
Accession number
© TATE, London 2003
Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd, Dec 1942, London/England
Contemporary Art Society, London, 1943-1944, London/England, Gift of the Contemporary Art Society, London 1944