C.R.W. Nevinson

C.R.W.Nevinson (British 1889-1946)

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was an English painter.  He is often referred to by his initials C. R. W. Nevinson, and was known as Richard.

Richard Nevinson is one of the most famous war artists and was the son of the war correspondent and journalist Henry Nevinson and the suffrage campaigner and writer Margaret Nevinson.  Educated at Uppingham School, which he hated, Nevinson went on to study at the St Johns Wood School of Art.  Inspired by seeing the work of Augustus John, he decided to attend the Slade School of Art, part of University College London.  There his contemporaries included Mark Gertler, Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash and Dora Carrington. 

Gertler was, for a time, his closest friend and influence, and they formed for a short while a group known as the Neo-Primitives, being deeply influenced by the art of the early Renaissance.  However, Gertler and Nevinson subsequently fell out when they both fell in love with Carrington.  Whilst at the Slade, Nevinson was advised by his Professor of Drawing, Henry Tonks, to abandon thoughts of an artistic career.  Nevinsons war memoir Paint and Prejudice (London, Methuen, 1937) must be treated with some caution.  Although lively and always colourful, it is as in parts inaccurate, inconsistent, and misleading.

On leaving the Slade, Nevinson befriended Marinetti, the leader of the Italian Futurists, and the radical English writer and artist Percy Wyndham Lewis, who founded the short-lived Rebel Art Centre, whose members included Edward Wadsworth and Ezra Pound.  However, Nevinson fell out with Lewis and the other rebel artists when he attached their names to the Futurist movement.  Lewis immediately founded the Vorticists, an avant-garde group of artists and writers from which Nevinson was excluded (though he is said to have coined the title for the Vorticists famous magazine, BLAST).

At the outbreak of World War I, Nevinson joined the Friends Ambulance Unit with his father, and was deeply disturbed by his work tending wounded French soldiers.  For a brief period he served as a volunteer ambulance driver, before ill health soon forced his return to England.  He used these experiences as the subject matter for a series of powerful paintings, which used Futurist techniques to great effect.  

His fellow artist Walter Sickert wrote at the time that "Nevinsons painting La Mitrailleuse (now in the Tate collection) will probably remain the most authoritative and concentrated utterance on the war in the history of painting."

Subsequently Nevinson volunteered for home service with the Royal Army Medical Corps, before being invalided out; he was eventually appointed as an official war artist, though his later paintings, based on a short visit to the Western Front, lacked the same powerful effect as those earlier works which had helped to make him one of the most famous young artists working in England. 

By 1917, Nevinson was no longer finding Modernist styles adequate for describing the horrors of modern war. Paths of Glory, depicting two fallen British soldiers in a field of mud and barbed wire, is typical of his later war paintings in its stark realism and complete lack of Futurist or Vorticist effects.  A large collection of his work can be found in the Imperial War Museum in London.

Shortly after the end of the war, Nevinson traveled to New York, where he painted a number of powerful images of the city.  However, his boasting, and exaggerated claims of his war experiences, together with his depressive and temperamental personality, made him many enemies, in both the USA and England. Roger Fry of the Bloomsbury Group was a particularly virulent critic.  In 1920, the critic Lewis Hind observed in his catalogue introduction to an exhibition of Nevinsons recent work: It is something, at the age of thirty one, to be among the most discussed, most successful, most promising, most admired and most hated British artists.

His post-war career, however, was not so distinguished. Nevinson was credited with holding the first cocktail party in England in 1924 by Alec Waugh.



Place du Terte, Paris×

18 x 16 inch
45.7 x 40.6 cm