The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, August 17, 2019

The greatest work by Britain's leading war artist comes to auction
Unseen for decades, rediscovered in a private collection. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

LONDON.- One of the most powerful and arresting images of the First World War ever painted, A Dawn, 1914 hails from a landmark moment in the career of C.R.W. Nevinson, widely considered as the British artist of the First World War.

The work perfectly encapsulates the best of Nevinson’s Vorticist style of the period 1914-1916, depicting a seething mass of soldiers reduced to mechanical forms.

The painting was first exhibited at Nevinson’s acclaimed 1916 solo exhibition at the prestigious Leicester Galleries, attended by the likes of Sir Winston Churchill and G. Bernard Shaw, and is one of very few paintings from this landmark show still in private hands.

Appearing on the market for the first time since it was acquired in 1964, A Dawn, 1914 will be offered with an estimate of £700,000-1,000,000 as part of Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art Sale on 21 November.

“It happened that I was the first artist to paint war pictures without pageantry, without glory, and without the over-coloured heroic that made up the tradition of all war paintings up to this time. I had done this unconsciously. No man saw pageantry in the trenches.” – Nevinson, 1938

Within a few weeks of the outbreak of war in 1914, Nevinson journeyed to the front and began a stint as an ambulance driver helping to tend hundreds of terribly wounded soldiers. The deeply disturbing sights he witnessed, evidence of what havoc modern weapons could inflict on the human body, stayed with him for the rest of his life.

This painting carries the viewer abruptly into the unforgiving light of an autumnal morning in Flanders, as overloaded soldiers march onwards to a life in the trenches with no supporters to cheer them on.

The soldiers in question are the poilus – downtrodden French soldiers who, unlike their British counterparts at the beginning of the War, were conscripts rather than volunteers and Nevinson’s portrayal of these suffering, stoic men possesses an unparalleled bite and resonance.

Last year, Sotheby’s sold a small 1916 pastel of French Troops Resting - a study for the finished painting that is now in the Imperial War Museum. This pastel set the current world record for any work by Nevinson, selling for £473,000.

“Our Futurist technique is the only possible medium to express the crudeness, violence and brutality of the emotions seen and felt on the present battlefields of Europe” – Nevinson, 1915

A leading British exponent of the Italian Futurist movement in the years prior to the outbreak of the war, Nevinson’s vision of war rivalled anything by his Italian counterparts in its violence, energy and mechanised version of the Modern. The geometric rendering of the crush of bodies melds the individual into the military whole – the driving immediacy and speed almost dissolving the composition into pure abstraction. Although there is characterisation in the determined soldiers as they pass by, their grim faces soon fade away to simple angular shapes losing their individuality, even their humanity, as they become a single unit on the move – a marching machine with a rush of speed and power felt from the front to back of the composition. Nevinson’s unique ability is apparent in rendering the notion of ‘man as machine’ without any extraneous glamour, but at the same time without losing a sense of common nobility in his subject.

Nevinson married in November 1915, and during his leave painted one of the most famous images of the war – also featuring French soldiers – La Mitrailleuse, which is now at the Tate. The considerable critical discussion and publicity that this sparked led to Nevinson being offered a solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in September-October 1916, a show which featured A Dawn, 1914.

Attended by the great and the good of London’s literary, social and political set, the exhibition was a tremendous critical success – with influential onlookers convinced that Nevinson, above all, had depicted the terrible essence of modern mass warfare. After the show closed, Nevinson announced that he was finished with the war as a subject, but within six months he had been recruited as an official war artist by the new Department of Information – although his work as an official war art was fundamentally changed in style.

Today's News

October 31, 2017

Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots discovered underneath 16th century painting

Exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection focuses on The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris 1892-1897

The greatest work by Britain's leading war artist comes to auction

Phillips to offer landmark Pablo Picasso painting

Major enhancements unveiled on 'Closer To Van Eyck' web application

The Free State of Saxony returns human remains to Hawai'i

Comprehensive survey exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe's work opens in Sydney

Prince show opens in London with Paisley Park treasures

Photographs profiling site of manufacturing innovation on view at the Princeton University Art Museum

Property from the Estate of Mitch Mitchell hits the stage at Julien's Auctions

John Lennon's personal copy of Yesterday And Today "Butcher Cover" may bring $200,000+

Exhibition at Loyola University includes more than 35 works of art by Jim Condron

Major exhibition and film series at MoMA celebrates Post-Punk club

Exhibiton of photographs and collages by Keith Vaughan on view at Austin/Desmond Fine Art

Maxfield Parrish's 'Study for Janion's Maple' highlights Bonhams American Art Sale

Sotheby's announces highlights from its Autumn Sale of Important Watches in Geneva

Victoria and Albert Museum acquires Wilton's Music Hall Archive

Exhibition at S.M.A.K. aims is to gauge the present significance of photography

Classics Dracula, Casablanca headline Heritage Auctions' Movie Posters Auction

Jill Bernstein appointed Board President of the American Friends of the Israel Museum

Scientific illustrations of flora and fauna by the Von Wright brothers on view at the Ateneum Art Museum

MACBA and Han Nefkens Foundation present 'The Maids'

Highlights of the Central Saint Martins' Postgraduate Art Auction announced

Turner Auctions + Appraisals to offer The Patsy Lee Donegan Collection of Asian Antiques

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Conservation reveals Wellington Collection work was painted by Titian's Workshop

2.- New dinosaur discovered after lying misidentified in university's vaults for over 30 years

3.- Unseen Texas Chainsaw Massacre outtakes and stills sold for a combined $26,880

4.- National gallery reveals conserved Italian altarpiece by Giovanni Martini da Udine

5.- London's Tate Modern evacuated after child falls, teen arrested

6.- Bavarian State Minister of the Arts restitutes nine works of art

7.- Boy thrown from London's Tate Modern is French tourist visiting UK

8.- Child thrown from London gallery has broken spine, legs and arm

9.- £10 million Turner masterpiece may leave British shores

10.- Tourists banned from sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful