An important wartime scene of French soldiers marching grimly to the front in Flanders, it could set a major auction record for the artist this month.
Having been acquired in 1964, A Dawn will be offered at Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art sale on November 21 with an estimate of £700,000-1m.
The artist had journeyed to the front within a few weeks of the outbreak of the First World War, beginning a stint as an ambulance driver and witnessing the horrors of life in the trenches.
The painting is one of the works that featured in Nevinson’s solo show at the Leicester Galleries in 1916 – the exhibition that made his name – and is one of only a handful from the event that remain in private ownership.
Sotheby’s senior specialist in modern and post-war British Art Simon Hucker said: “Nevinson’s A Dawn ranks alongside the Tate’s La Mitrailleuse and the Imperial War Museum’s French Troops Resting as the very best of the artist’s war paintings, works that define our vision of the Great War.”
The current auction report for Nevinson was set in June 2016 when Sotheby’s sold the 1916 pastel Troops Resting, a study for the finished painting that is now in the IWM, for a premium-inclusive £473,000.