Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946) Now Back the Bayonets Lithographic poster, printed in red, black and yellow, on thin wove, printed by Dangerfield Printing Co. Ltd, London, 750 x 480mm (29 1/2 x 18 7/8in)(SH)
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946)
Now Back the Bayonets Lithographic poster, printed in red, black and yellow, on thin wove, printed by Dangerfield Printing Co. Ltd, London, 750 x 480mm (29 1/2 x 18 7/8in)(SH)
C W R Nevinson was one of a number of artists to whom, at the beginning of the 20th Century, the poster offered attractive possibilities. In the main, these devolved from the poster's characteristics of simplification and mass-production. Thereby, the poster offered artists the opportunity to engage with audiences beyond the complacent environs of gallery, museum and salon. Nevinson and his contemporaries, Edward McKnight Kauffer and Edward Wadsworth each made significant contributions to poster art at this time.
Nevinson first produced his bayonet design for the poster for his own show of paintings at the Leicester Galleries, March, 1918, entitled "War", illustrated in Edward Bayes's "The Underworld: Taking cover in a Tube Station during a London air raid" in the Imperial War Museum collection. He then offered the design to the War Savings Committee for use in promoting the raising of funds.
The design is remarkable for a number of reasons; the variant colourways of each poster combining to catch the eye, particularly in the second example as offered here for sale, with the use of red, orange and black. Image and text are successfully integrated through the elaboration of an appropriately cubist letterform, whose spikey design echoes the raised bayonets, rendered with mathematical precision.
Furthermore, Nevinson's design exemplifies the optical disturbance associated with "dazzle" effects, those made possible by combining the geometric experimentation of cubism with the simplifications of the Japanese woodcut of the Ukiyo-e (floating world). In poster terms, dazzle effects were deployed to attract the eye against an increasingly hectic background of metropolitan spectacular. Large-scale dazzle effects were famously used by Norman Wilkinson and colleagues to camouflage shipping.
The cultural significance of Nevinson's poster cannot be overstated. Looking back over the artistic experimentation of the 20th century, the consistent recurrence of dazzle and strobe effects points to the power of this design as a major breakthrough.