Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946)
Road through the forest signed 'C.R.W. Nevinson' (lower left) oil on canvas 60 x 45 cm. (23 3/4 x 17 3/4 in.) Please note there is another work verso
PROVENANCE: Poole Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire Peter Francis Clegg Private Collection
In the aftermath of WWI, Christopher Nevinson attempted publicly to free himself from the largely self-made prison of futurist style in which he felt incarcerated. In a courageous, though ultimately impossible, bid for artistic autonomy, he wrote:'I wish to be thoroughly dissociated from every "new" or "advanced" movement; every form of "ist," "ism," "post," "neo," "academic" or "unacademic" (Preface to Catalogue of an Exhibition of New Works by C.R.W. Nevinson (London, Leicester Galleries, October - November 1919)
Though key critics, notably those in and around the Bloomsbury Group, were disparaging, the artistic versatility demonstrated by Nevinson in the 1920s, and his landscape work in particular, generated much highly favourable press comment and public support.
Given Nevinson's stated objective of total artistic freedom, it is possibly ironic that - from a contemporary standpoint at least - the most satisfying works of this period are often those where the prisoner has not slipped but merely loosened his stylistic chains. In such pieces, subtly controlled elements of an earlier futurist language, once focused on the raw power and violence of the machine-age, now combine successfully with natural as well as urban landscape subjects.
We see aspects of this fusion in both works here, whether in the gentle faceting and angularity that reinforce the stark autumnal architecture of the pine forest or in the bold impression of vigorous movement in the treetops - a subject dear to the artist even before his formal departure from the futurist fold.
The additional work verso relates closely to a watercolour study Wind in the Treetops, circa 1927, (Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery) and a mezzotint Wind, 1918. In addition, an oil titled Wind in the Trees was exhibited at the New English Art Club in 1929.