The drawing is of a specific tree seen by John Nash and his fiancee when they were rambling in the Buckinghamshire woods.

It commemorates the walk of a devoted engaged couple, one of whom was going to a war from which he might easily not return. The drawing, small though it is of a mere scrap of Buckinghamshire landscape, is loaded with symbolic implications. The very posture of the tree trunk and its limbs is as much human as arboreal. Does it have associations with fallen soldiers in France or even the artist's own possible death in the trenches? What drives home the feeling of senseless destruction are the roots dangling high in the air under the beams of a futile sun. Slough Pools is among the earliest paintings that John Nash made of the Buckinghamshire landscape. As a watercolour it shows his virtues as a painter: the sureness and simplicity of design, the purity and reticence in his handling of colour, the strange mystery of the mood of the landscape, hard to define easily but uncannily real and there.


Allen Freer

Back to top