John Nash RA, The Lake, Little Horkesley Hall

The Lake, Little Horkesley Hall, ca. 1958

John Nash RA (1893 - 1977)

RA Collection: Art

This painting depicts a lake in the grounds of Horkesley Hall, an impressive country house in the village of Little Horkesley, Essex. The house, with its magnificent Regency architecture and lush landscaped gardens, was just a few miles from the artist John Nash’s home in Wormingford, where he lived after serving in the Second World War.

The painting is characteristic of Nash’s creative output – he was known for his simplistic, sometimes eerie depictions of the English countryside, and he rarely included people. Here, Nash uses a muted palette to increase the sombre beauty of the lake, the dark colours adding a melancholic note to the work.

Nash suffered from bouts of depression during his lifetime and many of his post-War paintings evoke feelings of isolation. This painting gives a sense of detachment from the world, the landscape viewed across the chasm of the lake, separating the artist and viewer from solid ground. The bare trees add to this sense of gloom, their skeletal forms appearing thin and lifeless. Nash often painted trees in winter, preferring the angular shapes of their leafless branches.

Despite the sombre atmosphere of this painting, the landscape was not just a site for Nash to reflect his own mental anguish. In fact, he found solace in the countryside and dedicated much time to creating a tranquil garden in his Essex home. This rural residence became a sort of sanctuary for Nash after the horrors of the war. Although many of his paintings from this time are tinged with sadness, painting in nature and gardening became sources of comfort for the artist.

Object details

The Lake, Little Horkesley Hall
John Nash RA (1893 - 1977)
ca. 1958
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

606 mm x 760 mm x 22 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Purchased from John Nash RA in 1958
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