Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nash, Frederick

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NASH, FREDERICK (1782–1856), water-colour painter, was born in Lambeth, London, on 28 March 1782. He was the son of a builder, and at an early age became a pupil of Thomas Malton the younger [q. v.], although a wealthy relative had offered to give him a legal education. He studied also at the Royal Academy, and began to exhibit there in 1800 by sending a drawing of 'The North Entrance of Westminster Abbey.'

He was afterwards employed by Sir Robert Smirke [q. v.] the architect, and between 1801 and 1809 he made some of the drawings for Britton and Brayley's 'Beauties of England and Wales,' and for Britton's 'Architectural Antiquities.' In 1807 he was appointed architectural draftsman to the Society of Antiquaries. He had three drawings in the first exhibition of the Associated Artists in Water-Colours in 1808, and in 1809 exhibited six drawings as a member of that short-lived society. These included two interiors of Westminster Abbey, the west front of St. Paul's, and a large drawing of the choir of Canterbury Cathedral. In 1810 he was elected an associate, and six months later a full member, of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours; he seceded in 1812, in consequence of his disapproval of certain changes made in its constitution, but he was re-elected in 1824.

His first published work was 'A Series of Views of the Collegiate Chapel of St. George at Windsor,' 1805, drawn and etched by himself, and finished in aquatint by Frederick C. Lewis and others. This was followed by 'Twelve Views of the Antiquities of London,' 1805-10. In 1811 he exhibited a fine drawing of the 'Interior of Westminster Abbey,' with a funeral procession, which was highly praised by Benjamin West, and in 1812 some of the drawings which were engraved in Ackermann's 'History of the University of Oxford,' 1814. In 1813 and 1815 appeared the drawings of Glastonbury Abbey and the Tower of London, in 1816 those of Malmesbury Abbev, and in 1818 those of the Temple Church, all made for the 'Vetusta Monumenta.' He visited Switzerland in 1816, and in 1819 began the series of drawings of Paris and Versailles, which were engraved by John Pye, John Bynie, Edward Goodall, Robert Wallis, William R. Smith, George Cooke, and others, for his 'Picturesque Views of the City of Paris and its Environs,' published between 1820 and 1823. In 1821 he exhibited his drawings of Tewkesbury Abbey, also made for the 'Vetusta Monumenta.'

He was again in Paris in 1824 to make a series of drawings of its environs for M. J. F. d'Ostervald, and in 1825 he returned thither with Sir Thomas Lawrence, whom he assisted by painting the accessories in a portrait group of Louis XVIII and the French royal family. He had previously painted in oil, and among the works which he contributed to the British Institution between 1812 and 1852 was a picture representing 'The Enthronation of King George the Fourth,' exhibited in 1824, and engraved in mezzotint by Charles Turner. In 1824 he exhibited at the Society of Painters in Water-Colours a very large drawing of the 'Interior of Westminster Abbey,' this time with a royal procession, and in 1825 a 'View of Calais Harbour'. A view of 'Paris from Pere-La-Chaise,' engraved by Edward Finden, appeared in the 'Literary Souvenir' for 1825. In 1828 he sent six drawings of Durham Cathedral, and in 1829 seven drawings of the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, York; the latter he drew on stone for the 'Vetusta Monumenta.' In 1830 he was sketching in Normandy, and he exhibited some views in the Netherlands, of which 'The Packet Boat entering the Harbour of Ghent' was engraved by Edward Goodall for the 'Literary Souvenir' of 1831.

Nash retired to Brighton in 1834, but continued to send drawings to the Royal Academy until 1847, and to the Society of Painters in Water-Colours until 1856, his contributions to the latter exhibition numbering in all nearly five hundred. The subjects of Nash's later works were generally drawn from the locality in which he lived and the adjacent parts of Sussex. While painting a view of Arundel, in 1837, he had a narrow escape from being killed by the fall of a stack of chimneys through the roof of the room in which he was at work. In 1837 he made a tour on the Moselle, and in 1843 visited the Rhine. His usual practice was to make and colour on the spot three drawings of the subject which he had in hand, one representing the effects of early morning, another that of midday, and a third that of evening. His later style, which commenced with his Paris views, although lighter in touch and brighter in colour, did not equal that of his earlier drawings, whose grandeur of effect led Turner to pronounce Nash to be the finest architectural painter of his day.

Nash died at 4 Montpellier Road, Brighton, from an attack of bronchitis, on 5 Dec. 1856, and was buried there in the extra-mural cemetery. The contents of his studio, including the palette of Sir Thomas Lawrence, were subsequently sold at Brighton. The South Kensington Museum possesses four examples of his art: 'The Waterworks at Versailles,' 'Tinterm Abbey', 'Distant View of London from Holloway,' and a 'View of the Mansion House and the Poultry, looking down Cheapside.'

[Art Journal, notice by J. J. Jenkins, 18-57, p. 61; Redgrave's Dict, of Artists of the English School, 1878; Roget's History of the Old Water-Colour Society, 1891; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1800–47; Exhibition Catalogues of the Society of Painters in Water Colours, 1810–1856; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Living Artists), 1812–1852.]

R. E. G.