Lot 17 (Modern & Post-War British Art, 30th July 2020)
CHRISTOPHER RICHARD WYNNE NEVINSON (1889-1946)
signed C.R.W. NEVINSON (lower right)
oil on canvas
76 x 46 cm (30 1/4 x 18 1/4 in)
Gordon House, London
Frank Rutter wrote in Art in my time, 1935, ‘Nevinson started life with a pre-natal tendency to revolt against injustice, cruelty and oppression’. Indeed, he was encouraged to challenge societal conformity from early age, with his father being a radical journalist who fought to end slavery in West Africa.
Before being appointed as an official war artist by the Department of Information in 1917, Nevinson was sent to South Africa in 1899 to cover the Boer War, which he strongly opposed, writing in his diary that Britain’s ‘real objects were to paint the country red on the map and to exploit the gold-mines.’ In 1904, he also visited Angola in Africa. During these visits the artist saw first-hand the effects of slavery. Upon visiting the malaria-infested plantations of São Tomé and Principe, he encountered skeletons of perished slaves along the way. His writings aimed to make clear to the consciences of his fellow Englishmen the human price of their taste for cocoa.
A sympathetic depiction of a mask nestled amongst flowers and leaves, the present composition focuses on an object of local cultural importance. The hand crafted mask in dark wood is beautifully contrasted with the bright orange flowers of the hot climate, encapsulating both the beauty of the exotic land and the objects produced by the hands of its native people. African mask is a work full of symbolism, a result of Nevinson's travels and personal reflections on the region.
Sold for £5,250
Includes Buyer's Premium