A Sense of Place

Two people on the beach getting ready to bathe in the sea

Bernard Meninsky, 'The Bathers', © National Museums Liverpool

By the mid-1930s, many artists were moving away from their conscious attempts to create a modern style. Instead they turned back to the English landscape for subject matter. Their artistic vision was also touched by the ongoing Surrealist movement. The paintings had a strong sense of place and atmosphere but were often melancholic and sinister, foreshadowing the impending war.

As the 1940s progressed, artists' use of paint became more expressive. Their brushstrokes sought to convey an emotional response to the spirit of the landscape and to the sentiments of a country at war. In the years during and immediately after the Second World War, artists like Paul Nash and Ivon Hitchens painted dramatic and sometimes haunting canvases. Nash's evocative late work, 'Landscape of the Moon's Last Phase', was a major gift from the Contemporary Art Society in 1944.

The impact of their work meant that as the 1950s dawned, Britain was established as one of the leading forces in the development of European painting.