I find it extraordinary that so few people outside of the art world have ever heard of CRW Nevinson. Who? I hear you ask: quite simply one of the most accomplished of war artists, whose mechanistic paintings of troops marching to the frontline and etchings conveying the desolation of the trenches are unequalled, to my mind.
As an early exponent of Vorticism, Nevinson’s take on what an exploding shell looked like still has the impact today that it had when first unveiled during the First World War. His depiction of a dead child lying face down in a bomb blasted street is arguably the most moving artistic image to have emerged from the conflict.
Nevinson was also reputedly the first artist to paint the view of the ground from an aeroplane. That he went on to create some of the most memorable images of New York in 1919 and beyond – see his etching ‘Looking through the Brooklyn Bridge’ for starters – is testament that here was no one-hit wonder.
Now A Dawn from 1914, one his oil paintings, is set to come to auction on November 21 with expectations of up to £1m or more. Look it up and then feast your eyes on more works by Nevinson. His was a rare talent indeed.