Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946) Marching troops 24.1 x 18.6 cm. (9 1/2 x 7 1/3 in.)
Lot 18AR
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946) Marching Men 24.1 x 18.6 cm. (9 1/2 x 7 1/3 in.)
£30,000 - 50,000
US$ 50,000 - 83,000
Lot Details
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946)
Marching Men
24.1 x 18.6 cm. (9 1/2 x 7 1/3 in.)


    Private Collection, U.K.

    This portrait format pastel study circa 1916 relates to a master image, Nevinson's painting in landscape format Returning to the Trenches (1914-15) in the National Gallery of Canada (see Fig. 1). The oil depicts a unit of battle-weary French troops marching as one: a clean-sweeping, purging, shell-shaped phalanx, redolent of the move to machine-based war. First shown at the London Group ('The Intelligent Man's Royal Academy' - of which Nevinson was a founder member) in March 1915, it was a breakthrough work. Clearly influenced by Italian Futurism, and Cubism, it shows the artist using force lines, a suggestion of simultaniety in the blurred boots, and a sculptural shaping of human forms and military trappings, to create an intelligible and compelling image. Nevinson's oil echoes works by Russolo (The Rebellion, 1911), Kandinsky (Sketch for Composition [Battle], 1910) and Villon (Soldiers Marching, 1913). Nevinson, though, resists the intense colour oppositions of Russolo and Kandinsky, and the abstraction of the latter and Villon. He does, however, use Russolo's propulsive wedge of people in motion, if less stridently, and creates a rhythm of leaning rifles and marching boots Villon merely hints at.

    There is a second pastel version of Returning to the Trenches, known as Marching Men (1916) (Imperial War Museum). This is in landscape format. It is very close to Trenches, with colour slightly muted. The portrait version is similar, but truncated, with slightly muted colours: no flesh colour but white, and no intense reds, but an orangey-red. It is, however, slightly bigger than the landscape version. There are two other versions of Trenches (and at least one other study): an etching (with the image reversed) entitled Returning to the Trenches and a striking woodcut On the Way to the Trenches which appeared in Wyndham Lewis's Blast (no.2, the 'War' issue). The number of versions underlines how important Nevinson himself felt the image. Although Trenches did not gain universal approval when first exhibited, it was hailed as 'a very oasis of intellectual clearness among a babel of artistic gibberish' (Evening News, 13 March 1915). It was part of a strong wave of modernist British art, which included Epstein's The Rock Drill.

    Marching Men (pastel study) appears to have belonged to a collector who owned other Nevinson pictures, including one key war painting which he kept for over 50 years. A note on the title: Wyndham Lewis referred to Trenches as 'Marching Soldiers' when he reviewed the London Group exhibition, saying the soldiers 'have a hurried and harassed melancholy and chilliness that is well seen'.

    We are grateful to Christopher Martin for compiling this catalogue entry.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this lot has been withdrawn from sale.
Auction information

Bonhams' November sale achieved a number of high profile records, including the highest price in London that week within a sale of Modern British Art - Allies by Lawrence Holofcener fetched an impressive £409,250. The department are especially proud to have secured a new world auction record for Walter Richard Sickert. Painted circa 1904, Woman in Profile with Downcast Eyes was discovered in Australia and following intense bidding realized £229,250. Irish Art fared well too, with Paul Henry's charming Old-Age Pensioners going for £109,250 while Colin finding Irish buyers.

The next auction will take place on 29 May and closes for entry in April. Already consigned are museum quality works that are fresh to market by LS Lowry, FE McWilliam and Edward Seago, among others.

For confidential advice or appraisals please contact a member of the department. Our London-based specialists travel throughout the UK and in 2013 and will also be visiting locations including Ireland, South Africa, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
AR Artists Resale Right

Goods subject to Artists Resale Right Additional Premium.

  1. Penny Day
    Specialist - Modern British and Irish Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8366
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
Similar items
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946) Romney Marsh (Guichard 25) The rare etching, 1922, on wove, a rich impression, signed and dated in pencil, from the edition of 25, with margins, 289 x 452mm (11 3/8 x 17 3/4in)(PL) Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (British, 1889-1946) The Bayonets Have Won Through The rare lithographic poster printed in red, black and yellow, circa 1918, printed by Dangerfield Printing Co. Ltd., London, the full sheet, 751 x 482mm (29 1/2 x 19in) (SH) unframed Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946) London from Parliament Hill Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson A.R.A. (British, 1889-1946) Now the Bayonets have won through Lithographic poster, printed in red, black and yellow, on thin wove, backed onto linen, 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) The Temples of New York Drypoint, 1919, a rich impression with burr and delicate plate tone, on cream F. J. Head & Co watermarked laid, signed in pencil, from an edition not exceeding 75, with margins, 201 x 150mm (8 x 6in)(PL) unframed Christopher Richard Wynne  Nevinson (British, 1889-1946) Nevinson Pictures, Leicester Galleries Circ