Paul Nash WWI lithographs at Bloomsbury auction

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2015-06-26 10:43:42

Paul Nash WWI lithographs at Bloomsbury auction

Bloomsbury Auctions have announced the inclusion of two stunning and rare lithographs from war artist Paul Nash at their Modern & Contemporary Prints Sale on December 4.

In 1917, Paul Nash enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles, a volunteer regiment, and was sent to the Western Front. Here, he was wounded, and while recuperating produced drawings and paintings describing his time in the trenches. As a result of their favourable reception, he became an official war artist.

From 1917, Paul Nash produced some of the most powerful depictions of the First World War. One of the first was a vision of the after effects of the Battle of Passchendaele. It is estimated that both the Allies and German Empire lost between 200,000 and 400,000 men on each side at this key conflict.

Nash’s portrait of the destruction is entitled ‘A Shell Bursting, Passchendaele, 1918’. The moving and startlingly modern image is signed and inscribed by the artist to ‘Albert’. It is expected to see £25,000-£35,000.

The second Nash work at the auction is Mine Crater, Hill 60 (1917). It comes from the collection of a fellow artist, who served with Nash during the war. The lithograph presents the awful destruction visited upon the enemy at Messines, as soldiers tunnelled deep under German lines and planted huge amounts of explosives. On June 7, 1917, all the explosives were detonated at once, and the German lines decimated. This work is expected to sell for £20,000-£30,000.

Nash described his role as a war artist: ‘I am no longer an artist interested and curious. I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want to war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls’. (Letter to Nash’s wife, November 18, 1917).

Another World War I artwork by CRW Nevinson, the dystopian-esque On the Road to Ypres, will also be offered at Bloomsbury. Considered one of the finest pen and ink sketches of the war to be offered to the public, it is expected to sell for £50,000-£70,000.

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