Mule Team, an extremely rare painting by the acclaimed First World War artist C.R.W. (Christopher) Nevinson (1889-1946), will be sold in Bonhams British Master Prints sale on 17 June. It is estimated at £250,000 – 350,000 ($378,000 – 53,000), and could well set a world record for the artist’s work. Mule Team has been in private hands for nearly 100 years during which time it has been seen in public only once. It was painted in late 1917 following Nevinson’s return to London from a four- week tour of the trenches in his capacity as an official war artist. At the heart of the painting is an ordinary British solider – a Tommy – seated on his mule with ammunition and sustenance slung over his shoulders. The clenched fist which grasps the reins with purpose and determination is deliberately oversized to emphasize the defiance and perseverance of the Allied armies.
The works produced during the war form the basis of Nevinson’s reputation as one of Britain’s most acclaimed artists of the early 20th century. Almost all the oil paintings from 1917 are in public collections and those depicting Tommies – such as Mule Team – very rarely appear on the open market.
Mule Team and three of the artist’s rarest prints from the same era will go on display at Bonhams, 580 Madison Avenue New York from 1-7 May inclusive prior to their London sale.
The prints, to be sold in Bonhams British Master Prints, include MT (Motor Transport), a rare woodcut from 1918, estimated at £50,000 – 70,000 ($75,600 – 105,800); The Workers, a lithograph from 1919 £30,000 – 50,000($45,400 – 75,600) and The Cursed Wood, a drypoint from 1918 £20,000 -30,000($30,200 – 45,400)