In honor of the centenary of World War I this year and following an overwhelming response to last year’s Grosvenor School sale pre-view, Bonhams will host a dedicated exhibition of works by war artist Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson to accompany its April Prints sale.

The exhibition will run from the 11th-23rd of April.

In 1917 the British Ministry of Information commissioned artists to take part in a series named ‘The Great War: Britain’s Efforts and Ideals’. C.R.W. Nevinson was among the nine artists chosen to each produce a series of six lithographs on the ‘Efforts’ theme. Each lithograph was made in an edition of 200.

As part of this commission, Nevinson created the ‘Building Aircraft’ series. The set of six lithographs described the industrial process of building aircraft, from manufacture to assembly and, finally, to flight.

A complete set of six, rarely seen together, are included in the Bonhams exhibition.

Assembling Parts (1917) captures the energy and spirit of young men building aeroplanes. The busy scene is filled with criss-crossing lines of the skeleton plane, stretching in all directions out of the tightly cropped viewing space. In Acetylene Welder (1917), the repeated lines of identical workers and the strong diagonals of the factory machinery accentuate a rigorously organized industrial modern warfare.

Banking at 4,000 Feet (1917) and In the Air (1917) show magnificent birds-eye views of the French countryside from aboard the soaring machines.

Other notable works in the exhibition are two sobering front line depictions; Twilight, a 1916 black and white drypoint of a struggling soldier carrying his wounded friend and Reliefs at Dawn (1918) a haunting lithograph depicting laden soldiers arriving in the trenches.

C. R. W. Nevinson

C. R. W. Nevinson was one of the most famous war artists during World War I. In his own way, the artist followed in the footsteps of his father, Henry Nevinson, a journalist and war correspondent. His mother, Margaret Nevinson was a writer and women’s suffrage campaigner.

Nevinson was born and educated in London and went on to study art at the prestigious Slade School of Art – University College London’s art school. At the Slade, Nevinson was a contemporary of artists Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer who also found themselves as war artists recording the horrors of the war that had fallen around them.

After leaving university Nevinson became close with Marinetti, leader of the Italian Futurists, and the influence in his work is clear to see.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 Nevinson joined the Friends Ambulance Unit tending to wounded French soldiers on the Western Front. Ill health returned him to Britain where he created a powerful series of Futurist paintings capturing the horrors and chaos of war in ordered angular form. Nevinson’s linear depictions simplify the world into neat, ordered geometric patterns.