Christopher R. W. Nevinson
Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (13 August 1889 – October 1946) was a British figure and landscape painter, etcher and lithographer. He is often referred to by his initials C. R. W. Nevinson, and was known as Richard.

Early life

Richard Nevinson, one of the most famous war artists, was born on 13 August 1889, the son of the war correspondent and journalist Henry Nevinson
Henry Nevinson
Henry Woodd Nevinson was a British campaigning journalist. He was known for his reporting on the Second Boer War, and slavery in Angola in 1904-1905....

 and the suffrage campaigner and writer Margaret Nevinson
Margaret Nevinson
Margaret Nevinson was a British suffrage campaigner.Nevinson was one of the suffragettes who split from the Women's Social and Political Union in 1907 to form the Women's Freedom League...

. Educated at Uppingham School
Uppingham School
Uppingham School is a co-educational independent school of the English public school tradition, situated in the small town of Uppingham in Rutland, England...

, which he hated, Nevinson went on to study at the St John's Wood School of Art. Inspired by seeing the work of Augustus John
Augustus John
Augustus Edwin John OM, RA, was a Welsh painter, draughtsman, and etcher. For a short time around 1910, he was an important exponent of Post-Impressionism in the United Kingdom....

, he decided to attend the Slade School of Art, part of University College, London. There his contemporaries included Mark Gertler, Stanley Spencer
Stanley Spencer
Sir Stanley Spencer was an English painter. Much of his work depicts Biblical scenes, from miracles to Crucifixion, happening not in the Holy Land but in the small Thames-side village where he was born and spent most of his life...

, Paul Nash
Paul Nash (artist)
Paul Nash was a British landscape painter, surrealist and war artist, as well as a book-illustrator, writer and designer of applied art. He was the older brother of the artist John Nash.-Early life:...

 and Dora Carrington
Dora Carrington
Dora de Houghton Carrington , known generally as Carrington, was a British painter and decorative artist, remembered in part for her association with members of the Bloomsbury Group, especially the writer Lytton Strachey....

. 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
Henry Tonks
Henry Tonks, FRCS was a British draughtsman and painter of figure subjects, chiefly interiors, and a caricaturist...

, to abandon thoughts of an artistic career. Nevinson's war memoir Paint and Prejudice (London, Methuen, 1937), although lively and colourful, is as in parts inaccurate, inconsistent, and misleading.


On leaving the Slade, Nevinson befriended Marinetti, the leader of the Italian Futurists
Futurists or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose speciality is to attempt to systematically predict the future, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general....

, and the radical writer and artist Percy Wyndham Lewis, who founded the short-lived Rebel Art Centre, whose members included Edward Wadsworth
Edward Wadsworth
Edward Alexander Wadsworth was an English artist, most famous for his close association with Vorticism. He painted, often in tempera, coastal views, abstracts, portraits and still-life...

 and Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

. 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
Friends' Ambulance Unit
The Friends' Ambulance Unit was a volunteer ambulance service, founded by individual members of the British Religious Society of Friends , in line with their Peace Testimony. The FAU operated from 1914–1919, 1939–1946 and 1946-1959 in 25 different countries around the world...

 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 (Nov 1914 to Jan 1915) before ill health soon forced his return to Britain. 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
Walter Sickert
Walter Richard Sickert , born in Munich, Germany, was a painter who was a member of the Camden Town Group in London. He was an important influence on distinctively British styles of avant-garde art in the 20th century....

 wrote at the time that Nevinson's painting 'La Mitrailleuse' (now in the Tate
-Places:*Tate, Georgia, a town in the United States*Tate County, Mississippi, a county in the United States*Táté, the Hungarian name for Totoi village, Sântimbru Commune, Alba County, Romania*Tate, Filipino word for States...

 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
Royal Army Medical Corps
The Royal Army Medical Corps is a specialist corps in the British Army which provides medical services to all British Army personnel and their families in war and in peace...

, before being invalided out; he was eventually appointed as an official war artist
War artist
A war artist depicts some aspect of war through art; this might be a pictorial record or it might commemorate how "war shapes lives." War artists have explored a visual and sensory dimension of war which is often absent in written histories or other accounts of warfare.- Definition and context:A...

, though his later paintings, based on a short visit to the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, 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
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

 in London.

Shortly after the end of the war, Nevinson travelled to the United States of America, where he painted a number of powerful images of New York. 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 Britain. Roger Fry
Roger Fry
Roger Eliot Fry was an English artist and art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Establishing his reputation as a scholar of the Old Masters, he became an advocate of more recent developments in French painting, to which he gave the name Post-Impressionism...

 of the Bloomsbury Group
Bloomsbury Group
The Bloomsbury Group or Bloomsbury Set was a group of writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists who held informal discussions in Bloomsbury throughout the 20th century. This English collective of friends and relatives lived, worked or studied near Bloomsbury in London during the first half...

 was a particularly virulent critic. In 1920, the critic Lewis Hind observed in his catalogue introduction to an exhibition of Nevinson's 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
Cocktail party
A cocktail party is a party where cocktails are served. Women may choose to wear what has become known as a cocktail dress.Although many believe the inventor of the cocktail party to be Alec Waugh of London, who in 1924 found a need for this pleasant interlude before a dinner party, an article in...

 in Britain in 1924 by Alec Waugh
Alec Waugh
Alexander Raban Waugh , was a British novelist, the elder brother of the better-known Evelyn Waugh and son of Arthur Waugh, author, literary critic, and publisher...


External links

  • Christopher R. W. Nevinson at the Getty Union List of Artist Names
    Union List of Artist Names
    The Union List of Artist Names is a controlled vocabulary currently containing around 293,000 names and other information about artists. Names in ULAN may include given names, pseudonyms, variant spellings, names in multiple languages, and names that have changed over time...

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