In the 1930s Christopher Nevinson turned towards a realistic, traditionalist style of painting, departing from the abstract modernist works of art which marked his early career and war period. Leaving behind the more violent, angular abstract paintings which affiliated him with Futurism, providing him with an emotive backdrop to the depiction of the horrors of war, Nevinson looked for a period of peace and repose and found it in the portrayal of landscapes and flowers. Michael Walsh believes that this departure was partly due to the conflictions he had with fellow artists. Walsh describes, 'In tandem, modernism and modernity, alongside any desire to be at the forefront of the avant-garde, was rejected as he turned to landscapes and flower drawings. Nevinson himself seemed to cut the ties to his own successful past, convinced of his persecution by other artists and critics and tortured by his post-war lack of artistic alignment to either the left or the right' (M.J.W. Walsh, C.R.W. Nevinson This Cult of Violence, New Haven and London, 2002, p. 206).
The present lot is a view of Venice, seen from the Giudecca, an island in the Venetian lagoon. Pictured looking out of a bedroom window Nevinson captures Venice's famous canals, the picturesque gondolas and small rowing boats sailing by, with the San Marco tower and San Marco Basilica seen in the distance, their silhouettes punctuating the Venice skyline. In his memoirs Paint and Prejudice Nevinson describes howit was a chance meeting in Paris with his friend Germaine, the mistress of a French politician, which encouraged him to go to Venice. He relays the personal importance of the Italian city in a conversation he had with her explaining, 'It was the first place to inspire me to be an artist and it may be the last'. He later reflected on the success of this trip, declaring, 'Ill as I was, we went, and I did some of the best paintings I have ever done and sold them at Pittsburg' (C.R.W. Nevinson, Paint and Prejudice, London, 1937, p. 192).
In the present lot, Nevinson employs a looser brushstroke than work of previous years, using a myriad of vivid colours to capture the jewel-like hues of the Venetian landscape. Nevinson attributes this change of style to his pursuit of beauty, 'Prettiness is caused by the under-accentuation of form, the under-statement of scene or character, and the modification of colour. Ugliness is caused by over-accentuation, distortion and lack of proportion. And Beauty is the exact tight-rope act between the two' (C.R.W. Nevinson, Paint and Prejudice, London, 1937, p. 216). Nevinson's ability to master a variety of contradictory elements and juxtapose a series of styles is what makes his work so sought after today.