Born on this day in 1889, CRW Nevinson never fails to surprise me.
Last week, in Ghent, I stumbled across this work:
Titled The Strafing and painted in 1916, this is an exquisite example of the paintings Nevinson made ‘unofficially’ about the war befire his appointment as an official war artist.
Nevinson did not fight at the front; ill-health meant that he could only be auxiliary support and so he went to France to be an ambulance driver.
This painting does not appear in any of the books I own, but I have found it listed in the 1916 Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings of War at Leicester Galleries.
A strafing is an “attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft.”
Nevinson’s skill was in depicting the sound and fury of the bombs and the three blasts on the horizon line almost feel the full force as the ground shakes the ground.
Geometric shapes of the fortifications create a sense of distance and so the men walk through their trench as if nothing is happening.
The monochromatic palette is perfect for the scene. War takes all the colour out of existence and from his standpoint working with the ambulances, would have given Nevinson inside knowledge of the bleakness of existence under such bombardment.
Lucky me to have found this!