A RARE study of one of the most celebrated paintings by a Great War artist goes up for auction at John Nicholson’s in Fernhurst, on Wednesday, November 28.

It is the first time that a 1914 work, ‘Study for Returning to the Trenches’ by Christopher Nevinson has appeared on the market for 45 years.

The study was bought by art critic and author Mervyn Levy from the artist in 1973, and the 9¾ins by 7½ins pastel and charcoal drawing is an early exercise in what was to become the artist’s striking signature style – Vorticism.

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (1889-1946) addressed the harsh realities of the approaching war in sharp geometric lines, abandoning realism for abstraction to highlight the dehumanising transformation of armies of men into a war machine.

One of the authors of the Futurist Manifesto in June 1914, CRW Nevinson as he was known, placed himself at the forefront of the avant-garde movement.

His uncompromising approach made him one of the most acclaimed war artists of the 1914-18 conflict. He was also renowned as an etcher and lithographer.

Nevinson joined the Friends’ Ambulance Unit during The Great War and was deeply disturbed by his work tending wounded French and British soldiers.

For a brief period he served as a volunteer ambulance driver before ill health forced his return to Britain.

Subsequently, Nevinson volunteered for home service with the Royal Army Medical Corps and then was appointed as an official war aritst by the government in 1917.

He used these experiences as the subject matter for a series of powerful paintings

The completed 1914 oil on canvas painting ‘Returning to the Trenches’ is now in the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, and would command in excess of £1million if sold, experts say.

It is viewed as a landmark in both the development of Futurism and of war art.

The work being auctioned at John Nicholson’s is one of a few surviving studies for the painting.

Others are in the collections of the Tate, the Met and the Imperial War Museum.

This study, complete with studio label on the reverse, is estimated to fetch between £10,000 and £15,000.

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