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Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson

1889 - 1946

M.T. (Motor Transport) by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson

M.T. (Motor Transport)   1918

  Original woodcut.
Signed and titled in pencil.
Ref: Leicester Galleries Catalogue 22
S 280 x 440 mm; I 216 x 287 mm
One of the most rare of C.R.W.Nevinson's groundbreaking First World War works.

Particularly good, strong proof impression printed in brown ink.
Signed and titled "Motor Transport" by C.R.W.Nevinson in pencil.

M. T. or Motor Transport is one of the only two original woodcuts made by C.R.W. Nevinson, each printed in editions of only 12 impressions; as such, it is one of the most scarce of all of C.R.W.Nevinson's printed works. Only one other impression of either of these woodcuts has appeared on the commercial market since 1980 - this was an example of C.R.W.Nevinson's other woodcut, Ramming Home a Heavy Shell, which emerged in August 1998 under the title Gun Turret on HMS Collingwood - it was purchased by Campbell Fine Art and is now in private ownership.

The First World War was the first major war in which motorised vehicles were to play a significant role and they were to revolutionise warfare. Having been intimately involved in the early stages of the Futurist movement, Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was particularly inspired by the modern mechanical aspects of warfare, the tanks, the movement of troops by motorised transport, the motorised ambulance Corps (of which he was a part), and the aeroplanes used in the aerial war. The age of the horse and of the cavalry was past and a new era was emerging which C.R.W.Nevinson was determined to record in a fittingly modern, avant garde style of his own. The images which Nevinson produced of the First World War are of great significance, as these subjects allowed the radical artist to express his own truly unique vision of the modem machine age in a style of bold simplification which was both striking and utterly new.

C.R.W. Nevinson had already established his own radically modern style of art even before his earliest war prints when inspired by the futurist ideals of Marinetti. Although Nevinson never went so far as to embrace wholeheartedly the Futurist tenet of glorifying war, he was undoubtedly inspired by the imagery of men and machines in violent action. More than this, C.R.W.Nevinson was at first motivated by the prospect that the war engulfing Europe might begin to sweep away the bourgeois ideals which he so hated, to the benefit of the mass of society. However, the harsh reality of Nevinson’s experiences whilst with the ambulance corps in France completely changed his views on war. After being invalided out of the army in January 1916, C.R.W.Nevinson held his first one man exhibition entitled ‘Paintings of War’. He was subsequently appointed Official War Artist in July 1917 and made the official record of the aerial war in his Building Aircraft series of lithographs. After the armistice C.R.W.Nevinson stopped depicting war.

Unlike C.R.W.Nevinson’s aerial views, which were run in editions of 100 unsigned examples and 200 signed examples, Nevinson’s prints of the land war were run in only very small editions. The most scarce of all were his only two original woodcuts, Ramming Home a Heavy Shell and M. T. or Motor Transport, each of which was limited to only 12 impressions – all of which were signed by the artist in pencil.

Demand for Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson’s original printed works has risen in leaps and bounds in recent years and appears still to be rising as his importance is recognised internationally. Subjects such as Returning to the Trenches have risen in price from £14,500 to over £46,000 at auction in the past few years alone and as recently as November 2009 an impression of Troops Resting realised in excess of £79,000 Sotheby’s in London – indeed, C.R.W.Nevinson’s striking images of the First World War continue to experience an apparently relentless upward surge in their prices as demand increasingly outstrips a very limited finite supply.

On soft simile Japan paper with full margins. Signed in a relatively hard pencil so that the artist’s signature is heavily impressed into the soft paper without leaving a particularly dark graphite line. Generally very fine condition, image surface excellent.