Records have been broken for works by the British printmakers, C.R.W. Nevinson (British, 1889-1946) and C.E. Power (British, 1872-1951) as the Grosvenor School dominated the Prints sale at Bonhams on 15th April. Returning to the Trenches, a terrific wartime study of marching troops by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson took the top spot in the sale as it sold to a bidder on the telephone for £74,500.
The print is signed and dated 1916 in pencil by the artist. Lines of striding limbs blur into gray, creating a great rush of movement below. Motionless above, the soldiers’ angular faces and pointed black bayonets are cut in sharp focus against a white sky. C. R. W Nevinson was one of the most famous war artists during World War I. His powerful series of Futurist prints capture the horrors and chaos of war, simplifying the world into neat, ordered pattern.
In hot pursuit was Cyril Edward Power’s exceptional study, The Eight, which set a new world auction record for an impression of this print as it sold for £70,900. Speed and movement are captured brilliantly in the linocut print depicting rowers at full stretch. The identical bending bodies and curved oars are captured in mathematical, geometric shapes.
Third place went to Cyril Edward Power’s Speed Trial which depicts a racing car speeding into the foreground. Buyers competed in the sale room before the linocut sold to an online bidder for £68,500.
The linocut completed circa 1932 in swirling viridian green and Chinese blue is based on Malcolm Campbell’s ‘Bluebird’ car, which broke the land speed record in 1931.
Other top prices were achieved by Nevinson and Power: The Road from Arras to Bapaume, another wartime study by Nevinson sold for £62,500 and Power’s The Tube Station showing a deserted 1930s London underground station sold for £51,250.
Two more world records were set:
The Eruption by Dorrit Black (Australian,1891-1951) set a new world record auction price for any linocut by the artist as it sold for £47,500. Black’s linocuts are rarely seen on the market.
Another world record was won by The Wrestlers by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (French,1891-1915) which sold for £31,250 – a record price at auction for an impression of this print.
The Grosvenor School of Modern Art was founded in 1925 at 33 Warwick Square in Pimlico, London by British artists and printmakers, Claude Flight, Cyril Edward Power, Iain MacNab and Sybil Andrews – all of whom are represented in the 15th April sale.
It offered students a solid study of art history, with each artist lecturing on their own specialist area. The school became world renowned for its teaching on, and production of, modernist printmaking and attracted students from across the globe. Members of the group specialized in linocuts, producing bold, fluid, swirling images which conveyed the hectic pace of life in the 1920s and ’30s.