Not currently on display at the V&A

Sign Board for the Shop 'Modern Textiles'

Oil Painting
1926 (painted)

Board painted on both sides, with the 'Modern Textiles' trade mark on one side and an image of a columbine flower emerging from a dark archway on the other.

Object details

Object type
TitleSign Board for the Shop 'Modern Textiles'
Materials and techniques
Oil on panel
Brief description
Oil painting entitled 'Signboard for the shop 'Modern Textiles'' by Paul Nash. Great Britain, 1926.
Physical description
Board painted on both sides, with the 'Modern Textiles' trade mark on one side and an image of a columbine flower emerging from a dark archway on the other.
  • Approx. width: 105.5cm
  • Approx. height: 91cm
Dimensions taken from departmental object file
Marks and inscriptions
'Modern Textiles' (Lettered within the design)
Credit line
Given by R. Lewin
Object history
Sold by Mrs Elspeth Anne Burder (nee Little), Modern British Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture, Sotheby's, 15 December 1965, lot 79; Bought by Mr R. Lewin, by whom presented to the museum in 1975.

Historical significance: Paul Nash was a painter, printmaker and designer who served as an official war artist in both the First and the Second World Wars. He was a pioneer of modernism in Britain between the wars, promoting avant-garde European ideas of abstraction and Surrealism in the 1920s and 30s. However, he also worked in the English Romantic tradition, and his treatment of landscape recalls the visionary painters William Blake and Samuel Palmer.

Although better known as a fine artist, throughout his career Nash was very much involved with design and the applied arts. He created numerous textile designs, book illustrations and jacket designs, costume and set designs for the theatre and advertising posters.

Nash painted this sign to hang outside a shop opened by Elspeth Anne Little called Modern Textiles in the fashionable Beauchamp Place, South Kensington, which opened in 1926. The shop closed the following year but the business continued to function for a number of years from Miss Little's home. Little had studied painting at the Central and Slade schools of art, and become involved with textiles and block printing when she was employed in a theatrical workshop after leaving college. Modern Textiles was founded to promote good design and to sell fabrics printed by designers such as Phyllis Barron, Enid Marx and artists Paul Nash, Eric Kennington and Norman Wilkinson. Little printed her own textile designs from lino blocks in a small workroom behind the shop. (See Hazel Clark, 'Printed Textiles: Artist Craftswomen 1919-1939', Ars Textrina 10, 1988, pp. 53-70.) Nash designed the letter paper for Modern Textiles also, a sheet of which is in the V&A's collection (E.68-1975).

The sign is double-sided; on one side the name of the shop is painted, and on the other is a version of the 'arches' motif which Nash often used in his designs, with a columbine flower emerging from the darkness.
Associated object
Bibliographic reference
Susan Lambert, Paul Nash as Designer, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1975, p. 7
Accession number

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Record createdFebruary 14, 2007
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