Le Vieux Port

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Downing Street

    Composed in structured blocks and triangles, distinctively outlined in black, the compositional style of 'Le Vieux Port' is immediately recognised as a painting strongly influenced by Cubism. Its subject depicts the area of Marseilles known by this name. Christopher Nevinson knew Marseilles well and was actually in Le Vieux Port on 4 August 1914, the day that he heard at first hand that the First World War had broken out. He gave a vivid description of that day in his 1937 autobiography 'Paint and Prejudice'.

    Although the date on the painting appears to read 1910, research by a former Government Art Collection curator has suggested that these numbers have almost certainly been strengthened during restoration at some time during the painting's history. The stylistic influence of Cubism strengthens this assertion as Nevinson met and saw the work of Cubist artists at first hand while studying and living in Paris from 1912 to 1914.

    Nevinson was born in London and studied at St John's Wood School of Art and the Slade School of Art up to 1912. While studying at the Academie Julian, Paris, in the following year, he met radical, experimental artists notably Gino Severini and Amedeo Modigliani. In 1914 Nevinson co-founded the London Group. During the War, Nevinson served with the Royal Army Medical Corps and exhibited his work in London. His first solo show, primarily of war paintings, was held in September 1916 in London to great acclaim. Subsequent exhibitions secured his reputation as an innovative artist who captured the violence and fear of war. At the end of his life he turned to the more traditional subjects of landscapes and flowerpieces.

  • About the artist
    Born in London, Christopher R. W. Nevinson studied at St John's Wood and Slade Schools of Art. In 1912 he studied in Paris for a year. In 1914 he co-founded the London Group and issued a Futurist manifesto, ‘Vital English Art’ with Filippo Marinetti. In the First World War Nevinson served abroad with the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1915 he participated in exhibitions of war art and Vorticism in London. His solo show at the Leicester Galleries (1916) received great acclaim. Nevinson became an Official War Artist in 1917. In the late 1930s, he was created Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur and an Associate of the Royal Academy. Suffering deep depression after the Second World War, he died in London in 1946.
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  • Details
    Le Vieux Port
    Oil on canvas
    height: 91.50 cm, width: 56.00 cm
    Purchased from Leicester Galleries, February 1959
    br: C. R. NEVINSON 1910 (?)
    Collection of Kathleen Mary Nevinson (née Knowlman, widow of the artist); from whom purchased by the Leicester Galleries, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in March 1959
    GAC number