Paul Nash

Battle of Britain painting by Paul Nash on display at the Imperial War Museum - Otway & Orford

Otway & Orford proudly present our stylish and unique silk pocket square ‘Battle of Britain’, created using Paul Nash’s famous painting in collaboration with the Imperial War Museums (IWM).

Nash (1889-1946) attended the Slade School of Art and had many artistic as well as literary talents including painting, drawing, wood engraving, book illustration, photography and textile design. He was one of the most significant landscape painters of the first half of the 20th century and was also key in the development of Modernism in British art, setting up the influential modern art movement ‘Unit One’ in 1933 with fellow artists Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. Nash’s writing included a guide to Dorset for the Shell Guides to Britain.

Nash is often remembered for being a surrealist and war artist of both World Wars. During his time in the trenches and then as an official war artist, he became disillusioned with the way that the First World War was being conducted and during the Second World War, Nash was a strong opponent of Nazism. His views were clearly represented in his war art during both conflicts.

The original oil on canvas ‘Battle of Britain’ painting from 1941 was one of four large works on the theme of aerial conflict commissioned from Nash by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee. Nash told the Committee that the work was an “attempt to give sense of an aerial battle in operation over a wide area”, depicting as it did free flying British fighters battling through the ordered ranks of enemy aircraft in a landscape setting. The Committee’s Chairman, Kenneth Clark, recognised the allegorical nature of Nash’s ‘The Battle of Britain’, where patterns made by the vapour trails from Allied aircraft resemble buds and petals and appear to grow from the land and clouds, whilst attackers plummet to the earth that has defeated them.

To see more of Paul Nash's work as a war artist, please visit