Take a walk in the woods at a major new exhibition in town

John Nash (18931977) Berkshire Landscape, Watercolour on paper, The Estate of John Nash
John Nash (18931977) Berkshire Landscape, Watercolour on paper, The Estate of John Nash

The Higgins Bedford pays homage to the tree this autumn with an exhibition celebrating the role of trees and woodland in British painting.

Drawn from the world-famous Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection, some 40 watercolours, drawings and prints from the past two centuries will be on show and will include works by John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Edward Lear, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud.

The show will highlight the importance and enduring popularity of trees in art, and explore various themes which have evolved in artist’s depictions of nature – magical and dreaming trees, trees in the countryside, the pleasures of the woods and the lure of the exotic. It will consider both the role of trees in the living landscape and their place in the imagination as locations for stories, myths and symbols.

Among the exhibits is Fir Trees at Hampstead, John Constable’s largest ever tree drawing, a portrait of a larch and Scots pine in a neighbour’s garden in Hampstead, which was shown at the Royal Academy in 1834. Other stars of the show will be Berkshire Landscape by John Nash, in which the branches and hollow trunk of two dead trees are delicately traced against the background of lush summer foliage, and a sun-filled watercolour of willow trees, At Binsey, Near Oxford, by the Pre-Raphaelite follower George Price Boyce.

The exhibition runs from September 30 to February 25.

Visit thehigginsbedford.org.uk for more information.