After a troubled and tragic upbringing, Paul Nash went to study at the Slade School of Art on the advice of the romantic poet Gordon Bottomley, and by the artist William Rothenstein. His peers read like a role call of British Modernists included Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington, C. R. W. Nevinson and Edward Wadsworth.
Nash was a landscape artist and before the War his paintings had expressed his sense of wonder in the presence of Nature. He remained true to his first calling and figures are rarely to be seen in his landscapes. He was equally affronted, saddened, horrified by the destruction of Nature and of Mankind which he witnessed during the First World War, and the drawings which he made around Ypres and on the Western Front as an Official War artist grew a vision which matched the enormity of what he saw and felt. His sense of outrage was delivered with clarity and passion both in his work and in letters written to his wife, and it grew in intensity as the War and the pointless destruction of life and land continued.