Lot 32
  • 32

Edward Wadsworth

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
112,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Edward Wadsworth
  • Au Revoir
  • indistinctly signed and dated 1929 
  • pencil and tempera on panel
  • 30 by 22.5cm.; 11¾ by 9in.


Arthur Tooth & Sons, London
Peyton Skipwith Esq.
Belgrave Gallery, London
The Mayor Gallery, London
Ivor Braka, London, from whom acquired by David Bowie, 12th October 1993


London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, An Exhibition of Tempera Paintings by Edward Wadsworth, 23rd May - 8th June 1929, cat. no.23;
London, Belgrave Gallery, Masters of Modern British Painting 1890 - 1945, 8th - 30th September 1977, cat. no.12, illustrated n.p. (as Drill, Shell and Book by Sea);
London, Albemarle Gallery, Post Vorticism, March - April 1992, cat. no.61 (details untraced).


Barbara Wadsworth, Edward Wadsworth, Michael Russell Publishing, Salisbury, 1989, no.W/A 110;
Jonathan Black, Edward Wadsworth: Form, Feeling and Calculation, Philip Wilson Publishers, London, 2005, cat. no.258, illustrated p.182.

Catalogue Note

From the early 1920s Edward Wadsworth developed his mature style by mixing his own colours in tempera, and Au Revoir is a prime example of his mastery of the medium. It allowed him to create starkly lit and precisely painted marine landscapes and maritime still lives within a Surrealist vein, much as Giorgio de Chirico, with whom Wadsworth corresponded over technique, used tempera for similar effect to create his eerie metaphysical Italianate cityscapes.  

Wadsworth’s enthusiasm for maritime subjects was prevalent even while he was working within the context of Vorticism, with his ‘dazzle’ pattern camouflage being applied to over 2,000 ships during the First World War and the virtues of ports and shipping were excitedly proclaimed in Blast and woodcuts such as The Port (Tate, London). However in applying these motifs to enigmatic and mysterious still lives such as Au Revoir, Marine Set (2) Aubade (sold in these rooms, 11th July 2013, lot 2) and Regalia (Tate, London) Wadsworth was able to develop an entirely new pictorial vocabulary which rivalled the work of the leading continental exponents of this Surrealist style, Pierre Roy and De Chirico.

Wadsworth had a collection of maritime ephemera, ranging from objects of natural history to modern nautical machinery, which he would paint from life in his studio. After being invalided out of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during the First World War, Wadsworth put his newly inherited wealth to use by travelling to France and Italy where the landscape and scenery, particularly of St. Tropez and Marseilles, were of great inspiration. Indeed it was in Tuscany in 1921, inspired by the cool palette of the Italian Primitives, that he first experimented with tempera. Au Revoir is a notable example for the combination of both still life and landscape elements, with the beam of the lighthouse illuminating a steamship in broad daylight in a manner reminiscent of René Magritte.

Wadsworth was an important and central figure to British art in the early 20th century, who maintained strong links to the key figures and trends on the continent, many through the Parisian dealer Léonce Rosenburg. His connections ranged from Roger Fry and the Omega workshops to Wyndham Lewis and the Futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, as well as Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, Ossip Zadkine and the Cubist Jean Metzinger, while after the war he contributed to the Parisian journal Abstraction-Création and, although he was not associated with the British Surrealists, was a founder-member of the avant-garde British group Unit One.