C.R.W. Nevinson, A Dawn, 1914, a drypoint

France, AD 1916

A scene of soldiers marching

At the outbreak of the First World War (1914-18), C.R.W. Nevinson (1889–1946) volunteered as a Friends ambulance driver in Flanders and then as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps until January 1916, when he was invalided out. This print comes from a group of drypoints and related paintings based on his war experiences which were shown at Nevinson's first solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in London in 1916. The success of the exhibition led to his appointment as an official war artist and to a set of lithographs entitled Making Aircraft for the series recording Britain's Efforts and Ideals commissioned by the Ministry of Information during the First World War.

A Dawn, 1914 shows French infantrymen marching with a relentless machine-like rhythm to the battle front. The formal device of repetitive stylized wedge-shaped forms to convey both movement and mass was borrowed from the Italian Futurists, whom Nevinson first met when staying in Paris prior to the war in 1912-13. Always seeking a public platform for his art, Nevinson told the Daily Express in 1915: 'Our Futurist technique is the only possible medium to express the crudeness, violence, and brutality of the emotions seen and felt on the present battlefields of Europe.'

Nevinson became the leading figure in English Futurism. In June 1914 he published with the Italian Futurist leader F.T. Marinetti, the inflammatory manifesto Vital English Art, which set him apart from the Vorticists around Wyndham Lewis. The Vorticists included Edward Wadsworth, David Bomberg, and William Roberts, all of whom were former classmates of Nevinson at the Slade before the war.

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C.R.W. Nevinson, A Dawn, 1914, a drypoint

© 2001 Anne C. Patterson


More information


R. Cork, Vorticism and abstract art in, 2 vols. (London, Gordon Fraser Gallery and Berkley, California, 1976)

F. Carey and A. Griffiths, Avant-garde British printmakin, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

R. Ingleby and others, C.R.W. Nevinson: the twentieth, exh. cat. (London, Merrell Holberton, in association with the Imperial War Museum, 2000)

C.R.W. Nevinson, Paint and prejudice (London, Metheun, 1937)


Height: 201.000 mm
Width: 150.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1918-2-19-5


Gift of the artist


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