Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (British, 1889-1946) Returning to the Trenches  Drypoint, 1916, a good impression with rich burr and delicate tones, on partially watermarked F. J. Head & Co. hand-made laid, signed and dated in pencil, from the edition of 75, with full margins, 152 x 202mm (6 x 8in) (PL)
Lot 10* AR
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson
(British, 1889-1946)
Returning to the Trenches
Sold for £74,500 (US$ 120,708) inc. premium

Lot Details
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (British, 1889-1946)
Returning to the Trenches (Guichard 11; Leicester Galleries 1)
Drypoint, 1916, a good impression with rich burr and delicate tones, on partially watermarked F. J. Head & Co. hand-made laid, signed and dated in pencil, from the edition of 75, with full margins, 152 x 202mm (6 x 8in) (PL)

Footnotes

  • "War spiritualises, magnifies, intensifies." 1

    Nevinson's early war drypoints of 1916 "express the horror, the cruelty and the violence that were to be our destiny".2 Nevinson deviates from the tradition of glorified war art; Returning to the Trenches conveys an irrefutable truth form the trenches showing war as it was, stripped of sentimentality and heroism. It captures the reality of modern warfare, as the artist witnessed it, in a rhythmic design derived from the avant-garde movements of futurism and cubism that Nevinson had espoused enthusiastically before the war.
    "My attempt at creating beauty was merely by the statement of reality, emotionally expressed as one who had seen something of warfare and was caught up in a force over which he had no control". 3
    An experiment in conveying speed, Returning to the Trenches depicts a collective dynamic force marching in relentless uniformity and anonymity; a battalion led into their destiny and their inevitable death. The phalanx bristles with bayoneted rifles as the troops mechanically press forward at a pace that blurs their feet. The soldiers are executed with a cubistic faceted angularity; in a war dominated by machines, men become mere cogs in the mechanism. 4
    This powerful drypoint is a testament to Nevinson's modernist vision and technical virtuosity. The fragmented, repetitive prismatic forms are energised through tonal and textural variation. Areas of warm plate tone enclosed within contrasted dark velvety lines created by the characteristic drypoint burr emanate light and animate the composition.

    1 Christopher Nevinson, Paint and Prejudice (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1938), 116.
    2 Ibid, 87.
    3 Ibid, 118.
    4 Ibid, 117.
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