Nevinson, C R W

Catalogue number
  • ART/WA1/291/1
Art and Popular Design
Part of
  • whole: 244pp
war artist archive

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Bound volume

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Correspondence and papers relating to Nevinson's contact with the Ministry of Information and with the Imperial War Museum. Nevinson and his father, the journalist H W Nevinson, both wrote proposing him for official art commissions. At the same time, Nevinson was in correspondence with the Museum regarding a work purchased and presented by Sir Alfred Mond ('A Taube', IWM:ART 200) and the gift of another work by Nevinson (IWM:ART 517). It was agreed that Nevinson should go to France as the second temporary artist, to be succeeded by Lavery. The conditions of his employment are at (224). (At this time Nevinson was already working on lithographs for the series 'Britain's Efforts and Ideals'). Nevinson went to France in July 1917, as a civilian visitor which meant he had to be accompanied by an officer at all times. He wrote back frequently describing his adventures, and, at his request, his stay was extended; he was back by early August. Biographical notes written by Nevinson are at (194-5). Thomas Derrick visited Nevinson's studio to look at the work to date (192) and made some interesting comments, that he felt Nevinson was restraining his natural artistic inclinations for the sake of official acceptance. The file also discusses plans to superseded the publication 'The Western Front' with a publication featuring a wider range of artists. Nevinson was to be the subject of the first volume of 'British Artists at the Front'. There is extensive correspondence regarding the planning and publication of this volume, which hit numerous problems along the way. C F Montague wrote one of the introductions and also discusses introductions for the other volumes, for example in (82) he discusses his concerns over writing the introduction for the Lavery volume. There is also extensive correspondence regarding the issue of censorship of Nevinson's work, 'A Group of Soldiers' (IWM:ART 520) being judged by the Chief Censor in France, Major Lee, to represent types of men " not worthy of the British Army" (156) and 'Paths of Glory' (IWM:ART 518) being banned because it depicted dead soldiers. Nevinson was outraged at both these verdicts; the former because he felt it amounted to aesthetic censorship rather than military (148-151) and the latter because of its hypocrisy. The file also refers to preparations for Nevinson's exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in March 1918. From this exhibition, the Imperial War Museum purchased seven works (IWM:ART 513-516, 518-520), selected by Robert Ross under the terms of Nevinson's original appointment with the MoI. There is also correspondence relating to the commissioning of 'The Harvest of Battle (IWM:ART 1921). A further visit to France was arranged in connection with this picture. The file also includes some general notes about the history of the war artists' schemes ((61) and (148)); Nevinson's completed MoI 'Particulars Required' form (41); correspondence regarding Nevinson's offer to donate his 'red bayonet poster' design (as used in IWM:PST 0411 and 8167) to the War Board Poster Department (39); loans of works to the MoI's touring exhibition to America, and continuing discussions over terms and conditions of Nevinson's appointments. Two works are mentioned under differing titles from those by which they are now known: IWM:ART 725, now known as 'The Doctor' but then called 'The Dressing Station', and IWM:ART840, now known as 'The Food Queue' but then referred to as 'Squalor'.

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