Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was a very interesting artist. His images of the 1914-18 War look modern, full of action and capture the “feel” of warfare as it existed at that time.
Nevinson -Banking at 4000feet etching
His fellow artist Walter Sickert wrote at the time that Nevinson’s 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.
Nevinsons’ exploits during the war are well documented and really well-worth reading. The Tate and The Imperial War Museum have large collections of his work.
Nevinson dabbled around the edges of the Vorticist movement; he is thought to have inspired the title of their manifesto publication “Blast”. He attended the Slade School of Art in London, his fellow students included, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler and Paul Nash.
And now the link with Romney Marsh and, ultimately, to Dymchurch.
Nevinson visited Paul Nash whilst the artist was in residence at Dormers Cottages on the High St, this would be around 1920. It is Nevinson who is credited with teaching Nash the art of Lithography. “Dymchurch- The Sluice” is a fine example of an early Nash lithograph. The”Sluice” is now known as The Outfall and can still be seen today to the left of the main slipway.
For himself, in 1923 Nevinson created a beautiful etching titled “Romney Marsh”. An image from this edition is in the Rye Art Gallery collection. Another print from the edition sold at Bonham’s last week for £10,625, twice the estimate.
The Bonham’s catalogue entry quotes Paul Konody, a leading critic in the 1920’s “In these plates he makes the etched line express a spaciousness, airiness and breeziness that are as a rule reserved for the experienced landscape painters brush. They suggest physical well-being and happy communion with nature.”
To me, Nevinson’s wartime images can be brutal, graceful and incredibly powerful and compelling icons of the machine age. His mellow pastoral rendition of rural Romney Marsh has a different quality, it speaks much more quietly.
Either way, I’m a big CRW Nevinson fan.