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Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art

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London

Edward Wadsworth, A.R.A.
1889 - 1949
CONVOY
signed, titled, dated 1941 and dedicated For Taffy and Enid on the reverse
tempera on canvas mounted on panel
38 by 53.5cm.; 15 by 21in.
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Provenance

The Artist
T.A. Fennemore
Sale, Sotheby’s London, 19th July 1989, lot 460, where acquired by the present owner

Literature

Jonathan Black, Edward Wadsworth: Form, Feeling and Calculation, The Complete Paintings and Drawings, Philip Wilson Publishers, London, 2005, cat. no.396, p.200, illustrated.

Catalogue Note

Throughout the course of his life the sea provided a constant and rich source of inspiration for Edward Wadsworth. Whether through his Vorticist-inspired designs for the camouflaged ‘dazzle ships’ of the First World War; his surrealist nautical still-life compositions of the inter-war years, or his stylised depictions of sea-faring vessels in the 1940s. As such it was a devastating blow to the Artist that with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 he was ordered to remain far from the immediate coastal zone due to his daughter’s marriage and his son-in-law’s subsequent internment. Forced inland the Artist relied on press photographs and cuttings to complete his pointillist-style compositions in tempera, the medium that from the early 1920s he had solely relied upon for his paintings. Painted in June 1941 Convoy was based on one such press photograph of a fleet of convoy ships. As an island under siege in the Second World War, Britain was reliant on imports, the safe passage of which was fraught with danger. German U-Boats stalked the waters around Britain, the Channel and the Atlantic, putting the million tons of material imported to Britain each week at risk. The Battle of the Atlantic was to be the longest continuous military campaign of the Second World War, and saw a struggle to maintain control over the safe transport of goods and materials from the USA to Britain to aid the war effort.

Although never officially recognised as part of Kenneth Clark’s programme of war artists, Wadsworth worked relentlessly during the war years, including later in 1941 for the Chemicals company ICI. Yet for this constant flow of creativity, much of which spurred his later 1940s compositions, he clearly hankered for a return to the coast, to the work that he had carried out in the previous world war and to the rich body of visual source material that continued to inspire his output. This longing is visible in Convoy, which captures a fascinating snapshot of the war effort, and places Wadworth as one of the most articulate and stylish observers of the period.

The owner of this work, Jacqueline Fowler, has spent a lifetime discovering and collecting exquisite works of art. She has immersed herself fully in this endeavor, trusting her impeccable eye and innate sense for quality to seek out treasures from across a wide range of artistic styles. Not only has Jackie, as she is called by her friends, been the faithful steward of such precious objects, she has also delighted in sharing them with numerous institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Wellesley College and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A pioneer in recognising fashion as an art form, she built up a substantial collection of exquisite couture - the Jacqueline Loewe Fowler Costume Collection - which entered the Costume Institute at The Met in 1981. Reflecting on her many significant contributions to The Met, curatorial director of the Leeds Art Foundation, Joseph Cunningham, praised Jackie’s unwavering dedication saying: 'Jackie’s insightful collecting, profound generosity and longstanding support of American and European art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are inspiring to us. We admire her deep knowledge, exquisite taste and knack for finding the best of the best and generously sharing it with the public.'

Modern & Post-War British Art

|
London