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Haunting Nevinson works headline two sales at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions this summer
Bridge over the Thames, c.1920. Oil on canvas. Esimate: £40,000-60,000.
LONDON.- An early painting from Nevinson’s rare series of aerial battles, Bridge of the Thames, will appear at auction for the first time on Friday 27th June. A print of The Road from Arras to Bapaume, purchased by Captain Samuel Davenport Charles (1886-1962) in 1919 as an evocative memento of his service in Arras, will also be offered alongside the War Hero’s medals in a sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions on Thursday 3rd July. Both sales will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ saleroom in London’s Mayfair.

Captain Samuel Davenport Charles of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry was stationed at Arras during the Great War. Serving with distinction, he was awarded the Military Cross for his exemplary gallantry on the Western Front, and was later awarded the Imperial Service Order for his work in civilian life as Principal of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning.

The London Gazette, 16th September 1918: “Captain Samuel Davenport Charles, Yeo(manry). For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Throughout six days’ operations this officer did splendid work until badly wounded. Whilst hold (sic) a railway line he kept the enemy at bay the whole day, his offensive patrolling being of great value, and carried out with conspicuous judgement. On the last day he beat off four determined attacks, and when wounded in the arm and side he remained on duty till all was quiet.”

In 1919, soon after being demobbed from the British Army, Captain Samuel Davenport Charles happened upon this print of The Road from Arras to Bapaume by the Great War artist C.R.W. Nevinson at the Leicester Gallery in London where Nevinson’s held his first solo exhibition.

With Arras and his time on the Western Front fresh in his memory, the Captain purchased this haunting image of the area where he served, as a meaningful pictorial memento of not only his service, but also as a reminder of his remarkable bravery and survival at the Western Front, where so many sadly perished.

This poignant lithograph print is signed in pencil and is estimated to achieve £40,000-60,000 [Lot 16]. The group of six medals awarded to Captain Samuel Davenport Charles with be offered in a separate lot estimated at £1,500-2,000 [Lot 15]

Much is known of Nevinson’s work as an official war artist from 1915-18, a large part of which continues to be housed at the Imperial War Museum in London. At the time, images like The Road from Arras to Bapaume were translated into lithography for an immediate wider audience, and their fame and popularity was sealed. Less is known about the artist’s work that focus on battles away from the trenches, those in the air and at sea.

One such example is an oil on canvas, Bridge over the Thames, c.1920, which will be appearing at auction for the first time in a sale at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions Modern & Contemporary Art sale on Friday 27th June 2014.

An RAF bi-plane is engaged in an aerial battle with a German Fokker bomber over the skies of London. Particular attention is paid to the cloud formations the aircrafts are weaving through, but through the clearing one can clearly see the River Thames winding its way into the distance. Dogfights over London were rare but not unusual and significant damage was wrecked upon the capital by the Fokker aircraft.

Nevinson is known to have continued painting these aerial battles well into the 1920s, of which the current work is probably an example. It was acquired directly from the artist by Mary Smith, the grandmother of the current owner. The painting is estimated to achieve £40,000-60,000 [Lot 11].

The Modern & Contemporary Art sale will be held on Friday 27th June 2014, followed by Modern & Contemporary Prints sale on Thursday 3rd July. Both will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ saleroom in London’s Mayfair.

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