Returning to the Trenches
drypoint, on cream laid paper, 1916, signed and dated in pencil within the platemark, from the edition of 75, with wide margins, in generally good condition
Image: 578 x 778 in. (149 x 200 mm.)
Sheet: 812 x 978 in. (216 x 251 mm.)
with the Metropolitan Museum of Art deaccession stamp on the reverse (Lugt 1943)
Leicester Galleries 1, Guichard 11, Black 9
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Lot Essay

Although Nevinson accepted Futurist principles, and was indeed author of the 'English Futurist Manifesto', he never agreed with its tenet, 'We glorify war, which for us is the only hygiene of the world'. In 'Returning to the Trenches' instead of revelling in this 'glory', Nevinson combines cubist and futurist techniques to portray man as a mere extension of the war machine and thus part of an impersonal and inglorious affair. The group of individuals become a collective 'dynamic' force marching in relentless uniformity, emotionally detached from the metronomic routines of war. After being appointed an official war artist in 1917, Nevinson's art gradually turned towards realism as he found cubo-futurist techniques wholly inadequate to accurately portray the true horrors of war.

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