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With 'Solstice of the Sunflower' (1945), this is one of the artist’s final two oil paintings. The year after it was made, Nash, who had been diagnosed with bronchial asthma in 1933, caught pneumonia and died on the 11th July, aged only 57. He had long been fascinated by the mysteries of landscape and man’s involvement with it. As an official War Artist in World War I, he witnessed the near annihilation of both, and painted it in 'We Are Making a New World' (1918). Over the desolate craters and shattered trees, however, shafts of sunlight seem to promise nature’s ability to renew itself. A similar promise seems to be inherent in the heavenly body looming through the clouds above the WWII commission Totes Meer (1940–1941), providing a reassuring reference point over a landscape created by a mass of smashed German aircraft that, as Nash’s title points out, appear at first to be a dead sea.
oil on canvas
H 71.1 x W 91.4 cm
purchased from Arthur Tooth & Sons, 1949
blc: Paul Nash