Lot 260: CHRISTOPHER RICHARD WYNNE NEVINSON (1889-1946)
Old Masters, Traditional & 19th Century Paintings
October 13, 2010
Oxford, United Kingdom
Description: CHRISTOPHER RICHARD WYNNE NEVINSON (1889-1946) "Bravo!", 1913, signed, oils on canvas, 17 ¢" x 23 ╝", Ernest, Brown & Phillips gallery label verso. 'You have a very good picture in "Bravo!", it is impressionism "rather squared-up"' reported Vogue magazine in October 1916. Last recorded in public in Christopher R. W. Nevinson's inaugural solo show at the Leicester Galleries in 1916, "Bravo!" was part of the exhibition that made Nevinson a celebrity. The exhibition represented all the work Nevinson had produced upon a military theme, up to that date and as Michael Walsh has stated it was a 'microcosm of the works of art that had led to his 'coming of age''. (Walsh, 2001) The majority of work in the exhibition was representative and symbolic of the harshness and tragedy of a world at war - affording a glimpse to the viewer of one of the bloodiest pages in human history. The mechanical brutality of his painting set his work aside from his contemporaries and led critics to declare his work 'one of the most notable contributions' to the art of his time. (Cambridge Magazine, 1917) "Bravo!", an early work from Nevinson's career, might indeed as Michael Walsh has proposed be said to be his first war work. It represents a change of direction away from Impressionism towards structural as opposed to tonal importance, in his work. (Walsh 2001) In terms of the 1916 exhibition "Bravo!" should be seen as a counterpoint to other works in the exhibition representing a spirit of war - where the men march gaily on in perfect union to the cheers of the onlooking women and children. The foreword to the 1916 exhibition catalogue claimed that even the Pacifist would be compelled to cry "Bravo!" on seeing the French battalion on the march hinting at the significance of patriotism and participation in war. The catalogue continues 'Force in full cry after Adventure; energy can be carried no further. And so we come away feeling that the Cup of War is filled, not only with blood and tears, but also with the elixir of life.' (Leicester Galleries Exhibition Catalogue, 1916, p.5) With many artists retreating to a sentimental and provincial reaction against the horror of war, "Bravo!" is part of what Nevinson called 'Vital Art' in England overcoming 'the insipid & sentimental'. His aim was to bring the viewer 'closer to the heart of his experiences than his own eyes could have carried him'. (Exh. Cat., 1916) According to the Studio magazine in 1916 Nevinson's employment of cubist geometric convention 'has undoubtedly been a factor in conveying that the dynamic impression which it was the artist's aim to give - especially in the pictures of troops in motion, such as "Bravo", 'Road to Ypres', and 'A Column on the March' succeeded. It is we think subjects like these that the artist's geometric method is seen at its best'. Exhibited: Ernest, Brown & Phillips at The Leicester Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings of War by Christopher R. W. Nevinson, Exhibition No. 232. September-October 1916, No. 3 Literature and Reviews: Konody, P. G., Modern War Paintings by C. R. W. Nevinson, London: Grants Richards Limited, 1917, illustrated p. 73 Nevinson, Christopher R. W., Catalogue of an Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings of War by C. R. W. Nevinson, September-October 1916, No. 232 Rutherston, Albert (ed.), Contemporary British Artists: C. R. W. Nevinson, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925, plate 3 Walsh, Michael, The Career and Work of C. R. W. Nevinson to 1924, PhD Dissertation, University of York, 1998-2001 Cambridge Magazine, Three Half Guineas, 3 February 1917 The Ploughshare, December 1916 Studio, November 1916 Vogue, October 1916 The Westminster Gazette, Mr. Nevinson's War Pictures, 2 October 1916 Provenance: Bought by a friend of Vera Waddington and by family descent thereafter.