A Dawn by CRW Nevinson
‘A Dawn’ by CRW Nevinson, a work from 1914 that sold for a record £1.87m (including premium) at Sotheby’s.

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A Dawn, a 1914 picture of French soldiers marching grimly to the front in Flanders, was one of the works that featured in Nevinson’s solo show at the Leicester Galleries in 1916 – the exhibition that made his name – and was one of only a handful from the event that still remain in private ownership.

Consigned from a private source, it was offered at Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art sale with an estimate of £700,000-1m.

The price surpassed previous auction high for the artist which was set in June 2016 when the 1916 pastel Troops Resting, a study for the finished painting of the same title that is now in the Imperial War Museum, for a premium-inclusive £473,000 in the same rooms.

Marching orders

The soldiers depicted in A Dawn were French soldiers who, unlike their British counterparts at the beginning of the War, were conscripts rather than volunteers. Nevinson portrays them marching rhythmically and stoically on an autumnal morning in his trademark Vorticist style.

The artist had journeyed to the front within a few weeks of the outbreak of the First World War, beginning a stint as an ambulance driver and witnessing the horrors of life in the trenches – the subject which dominated of his work during this period.

The Leicester Galleries show was huge critical success with the artist commended for capturing the terrible essence of modern mass warfare.

After the show closed, Nevinson announced that he had finished with the war as a subject, although six months later he was recruited as an official war artist by the new Department of Information.

Winston Churchill’s final painting

The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell by Winston Churchill

‘The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell’ by Sir Winston Churchill that sold at Sotheby’s for £357,000 (including premium).

Elsewhere at the sale, a painting given by Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) to his bodyguard Sergeant Edmund Murray appeared on the market for the first time at Sotheby’s.

Dating from c.1962, three years before he died, it depicted the goldfish pool in Churchill’s garden at Chartwell and was billed as “the last work ever painted” by the wartime leader and amateur artist.

Estimated at £50,000-80,000, it sold for a premium-inclusive £357,000.