John Northcote Nash was a British painter. Born in London in 1893, Nash was raised in Buckinghamshire. He initially began his working life as a journalist, working with the Middlesex and Berkshire Gazette as an apprentice before deciding to seek a career as a self-taught artist. With his brother Paul, Nash participated in a two-man exhibition at the Dorien Leigh Gallery, London in 1913. Though the exhibition was met with acclaim, the onset of the First World War halted Nash’s professional artistic career. During the War he served in the 1st Battalion of the Artists Rifles, alongside whom he fought on the western front between 1916 to 1918, before returning to England to serve as an Official War Artist. Upon his return, Nash was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to produce what is perhaps his most enduring work, Over the Top, as a reflection of his time spent on the front line. Following the War, Nash sought to expand his artistic ability. In 1924 he began to teach at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford where he remained until 1929. During this time he began to experiment with a number of different media, including drawings and woodcuts many of which were used to illustrate various books throughout his career. The artist himself produced a publication entitled Poisonous Plants in 1927 which showcased his expansive knowledge of botany alongside his excellent ability as a draughtsman.
From 1934 to 1940 Nash taught at the Royal College of Art in London, focusing on wood engraving and lithographic techniques. During the Second World War he was commissioned by the Royal Marines to serve as an Official War Artist to the Admiralty. Following the War, Nash continued to teach at the Royal College of Art. In 1951 Nash was elected a full Academician of the Royal Academy, which was followed in 1964 by his appointment as Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to art. In 1967 Nash was the first living artist to ever be given a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy. His work can be seen in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Imperial War Museum, London.