Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson

A Star Shell

exhibited 1916

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 508 x 406 mm
frame: 680 x 580 x 85 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1962
Reference
T00495

Not on display

Display caption

In this apocalyptic image, an exploding shell illuminates the battlefield like a star. Nevinson had been closely associated with the Futurist and Vorticist movements, which celebrated the machine age, but his wartime paintings bear witness to the destructive power of technology. Here the man-made explosion lends the landscape a visionary quality. This is almost certainly one of the works Nevinson painted in 1916, after he was invalided out of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Gallery label, August 2008

Catalogue entry

T00495 A STAR SHELL c. 1916

Inscr. ‘C. R. W. Nevinson’ b.c.
Canvas, 20×16 (51×40·5).
Chantrey Purchase from the Leicester Galleries 1962.
Coll: Purchased at the Leicester Galleries 1916 by Sir Miles Mattinson, d. 1944; sold by his executors at Knight, Frank and Rutley, 17 February 1960 (126), as ‘The Star Shell; Christmas Eve in No Man's Land’, bt. Anthony Tooth, by whom sold to the Leicester Galleries 1961.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, September–October 1916 (52); R.A., 1962 (581).
Lit: Konody, 1917, p.28, repr. p.57; Nevinson, 1937, p.86.

Almost certainly one of the works painted in 1916 after Nevinson was invalided out of the R.A.M.C. early that year, between such works of 1915 as ‘La Mitrailleuse’ (N03177) and those painted after he became an Official War Artist in 1917. The picture was partly repainted after the photograph reproduced by Konody, the star shell itself having been strengthened while the lights in the foreground were reduced; in addition the signature was added.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II