WARTIME works by C.R.W. Nevinson (1889-1946) are iconic, sought after and scarce – a potent commercial combination.
Copies of his early prints alone now command £50,000 upwards
(the auction record is £65,000 and others have been sold privately
for over £80,000), so what price an original oil painting produced
just at the point when he developed his trademark futurist
After keeping button-lipped over the last couple months while
they researched the picture, Mallams of Oxford have finally
announced that they will be selling such a work. It was found
hanging in a house near Oxford for which the auctioneers were
carrying out a probate valuation and they believe it is an early,
seminal and previously untraced work.
"As soon as I saw it, I felt it was right," Philip Smith of
Mallams told ATG. "The family were not fully aware of its
importance but, after working on it over the last few months, we
can now say that we have it consigned for sale.
"It dates from before the First World War but represents a
crossover between his pre-war and wartime work."
Before the war began, Nevinson spent around a year travelling in
France, Belgium and Holland and was based in Paris in late 1912,
producing views of the French capital, including pictures of the
The signed 17½ x 23¼in (44 x 59cm) oil on canvas dates from 1913
and is entitled Bravo!
It depicts French troops on the move with figures cheering in
the background. It has features of the impressionist style that
Nevinson pursued during his studies at the Slade (1909-12) - in
particular the pointillist sky - but it also has clear signs of the
mechanical momentum and geometric structures that he developed in
his Great War works and which are now most associated with the
Crucially, it was part of his inaugural exhibition at the
Leicester Galleries in 1916 and it may well have been the earliest
work in that ground-breaking show which made his name.
Indeed, contemporaneous press reviews of the exhibition focused
on Bravo! as being a counterpoint to the darker and more
disastrous views of war in the exhibition.
The work was therefore known to scholars but it has not been
seen since the exhibition and its whereabouts was unknown until
It appears that the late owner was a friend of the artist Vera
Waddington (1886-1954), who probably knew Nevinson either from the
Slade, Paris or their mutual connections with the Bloomsbury Group.
The collection also includes a number of works by Vera Waddington
herself and some other less valuable Modern British pictures.
The Nevinson will be offered in untouched condition, although it
has a small tear near the lamppost in the centre of the canvas, at
Mallams' sale in Oxford on October 13 and it is estimated at a
"Nothing like this has been offered before," said Philip Smith.
"It's therefore very difficult to predict what it will make."
By Alex Capon