Keepers’ corner – Christmas poem and nativity scene by Paul Nash (1889-1946)

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This nativity scene was printed from a drawing by Paul Nash and accompanies a poem known as ‘A Christmas Vision’.

The handwritten poem is illustrated by three angels in the style of the pre-Raphaelite artist, Gabriel Rossetti. They were a gift for Nash’s first love, Sybil Fountain, for Christmas 1909. At the time, Nash was 20 years old and living in Iver Heath.

The drawing depicts a host of angels visiting the newly born Christ child in a stable with white doves of peace and a starry sky. Romantically, the face of the Madonna is modelled on Sybil and her face appears in several other paintings by Nash. He was an imaginative and visionary artist and here shows his early desire to combine poetry and drawing in a ‘double expression’ where equal weight is given to both mediums.



Apparently, Sybil never realised the strength of Paul’s feelings, but she kept the poem, print and accompanying letter all her life. What a lovely gift to receive!

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