In London in 1912 Nevinson met the Futurist Gino Severini and travelled with him to Paris where he encountered Umberto Boccioni, Apollinaire and Modigliani. He continued his studies at the Académie Julian and the Cercle Russe in Paris. He became the leading figure in English Futurism, and issued, with Marinetti, the 'Vital English Art' manifesto in 1914. This set him apart from the Vorticists around Wyndham Lewis. He continued to espouse the Italian movement's beliefs until the outbreak of World War One changed his mind. He went to France with the Red Cross and was invalided home in 1916.
Most of Nevinson's prints are drypoints and lithographs. In 1918 he made three mezzotints of British subjects, (including the present work) but it is not clear what led him to take up what was at the time such a neglected medium. Antony Griffiths, the leading international print scholar, has called them the finest British mezzotints of the 20th century. No edition size is known but the mezzotints from 1918 are among the rarest of his prints. These highly accomplished prints marked the beginning of Nevinson's transition from war art to peacetime subjects. Three impressions of 'From an office window' have appeared on the market since 1976.
The print repeats, with minor changes, a painting of 1917 which was bought by Osbert Sitwell. Sitwell wrote an essay on Nevinson, published in the Contemporary British Artists series in 1925. He gives the following appreciation of the painting on which the print is based:
'The vista through the open window is very three dimensional, and through the various shafts that are sunk like wells between the high brown buildings, of which only the top windows, flat roofs, and gables are visible to us, float up the unmistakable voices of London…The angles and curves of the pale blue smoke, those cylindrical chimney-pots that turn in the wind with the sound of a ghost in chains and clanking armour, the black shadows and grey lights, the telegraph wires forever intersecting the line of vision and delicately framing in new vistas…all proclaim the name of their native city…'
25.2 x 17.7 cm platemark
Signature & date
Signed l.r., pencil "C.R.W. Nevinson". Not dated.
Sinclair Gillies Deaccessioning Fund 2005
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Modernists: selections from the European collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 07 Nov 2015–25 Apr 2016
Referenced in 12 publications
Avant-garde British printmaking, 1914-1960, 1990, p 56, no 30.
C.R.W. Nevinson: the twentieth century, 1999, p 125, no 67.
Contemporary British Artists: C.R.W. Nevinson, London, 1925, pp 29-30; pl 8.
‘Through a glass darkly,’ Bonhams Magazine, Summer 2008, pp 43-5; col illus p 42.
Nash and Nevinson in War and Peace: The Graphic Work 1914-1920, London, 1977, pl 76.
Impressions of the 20th Century: Fine Art Prints from the V&A Collection, Frances Rankine 'From an Office Window, 1918', p 42, London, 2001, col illus p 42.
The Fine Art Society, 24 May-30 June Summer Auction catalogue, London, 2005, p 65, no. 32.
British Prints from the Machine Age: Rhythms of Modern Life 1914-1939, Boston, 2011, pp 91-4, cat no 44.
Avant-garde British printmaking, 1914-1960, 1990, p 56, cat no 30.
C.R.W. Nevinson: The Twentieth Century, London, 1999, p 49 cat no 66.
C.R.W. Nevinson: The Complete Prints, London, 2014, pp 11, 42, 108, cat no 46, col illus 43.
C.R.W. Nevinson 1889-1946: Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Prints, Cambridge, 1988, p 33, cat no 45, illus p 34.