An army of black and white wartime studies by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (British, 1889-1946) lead the charge at The Grosvenor School & Avant-Garde British Printmaking auction at Bonhams
, New Bond Street on 15th April 2014.
The top lot in the sale is Returning to the Trenches, a terrific drypoint study of marching troops by C. R. W Nevinson. Lines of striding limbs blur into grey, creating a great rush of movement below. Motionless above, the soldiers' angular faces and pointed black bayonets are cut in sharp focus against a white sky.
The print is signed and dated 1916 in pencil by the artist and is offered with estimates of £60,000-£80,000.
Other Nevinson wartime works include Loading the Ship, a 1917 lithograph showing soldiers loading cargo (estimated at £30,000-£50,000) and The Road from Arras to Bapaume of 1918 (estimated £30,000-50,000), showing a never-ending road stretching uphill into the grey distance.
C. R. W Nevinson was one of the most famous war artists during World War I. At the outbreak of war in 1914 Nevinson joined the Friends Ambulance Unit tending to wounded French soldiers on the Western Front. Ill health returned him to Britain where he created a powerful series of Futurist paintings capturing the horrors and chaos of war in ordered, angular form. Nevinson's linear depictions simplify the world into neat, geometric patterns.
Other highlights in the sale include vibrant works by founding members of The Grosvenor School:
Speed and movement are captured brilliantly in The Eight a linocut print created by Cyril Edward Power (British, 1872-1951) depicting rowers at full stretch - their identical bending bodies and curved oars captured in mathematical, geometric shapes. Power's print, created in 1930, is estimated at £40,000-£60,000.
Continuing the theme is Speed Trial by Cyril Edward Power which depicts a racing car speeding into the foreground. The linocut completed circa 1932 in swirling viridian green and Chinese blue, is valued at £40,000-£60,000. The car in the image is based on Malcolm Campbell's 'Bluebird', which broke the land speed record in 1931.
The Tube Station by Cyril Edward Power (£35,000-£45,000) is another of the top lots in the 15th April sale. Created in 1932, the print shows a deserted 30s London underground station as a train rushes past.
The Grosvenor School of Modern Art
The Grosvenor School of Modern Art was founded in 1925 at 33 Warwick Square in Pimlico, London by British artists and printmakers, Claude Flight, Cyril Edward Power, Iain MacNab and Sybil Andrews - all of whom are represented in the 15th April sale.
It offered students a solid study of art history, with each artist lecturing on their own specialist area. The school became world renowned for its teaching on, and production of, modernist printmaking and attracted students from across the globe. Members of the group specialised in linocuts, producing bold, fluid, swirling images which conveyed the hectic pace of life in the 1920s and 30s.