Edward Wadsworth

Seaport

1923

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Edward Wadsworth 1889–1949
Medium
Tempera on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 635 x 889 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1962
Reference
T00497

Display caption

In the early 1920s Wadsworth developed a new kind of painting that suited the widespread mood of restlessness and need for escape after the first world war (1914-18).

Hiking home from a holiday in Newlyn in 1920 he decided to paint a series of harbour scenes similar to Turner’s engravings of The Harbours of England. In the following year an inheritance enabled him to travel abroad; Seaport was painted from sketches made in France, probably at La Rochelle. Using tempera, a technique requiring swift and accurate handling, Wadsworth combines realistic detail with a dream-like atmosphere redolent of the past.

Gallery label, April 2005

Catalogue entry

T00497 A SEAPORT 1923

Inscr. ‘Edward Wadsworth 1923’ b.l.
Tempera on linen laid on plywood, 25×35 (63·5×89).
Chantrey Purchase from Mrs Deane 1962.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by Bernard C. Windeler, who gave it to his daughter Mrs Linette B. Deane.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, March 1923 (54); Tate Gallery, February–March 1951 (6); R.A., 1962 (559).
Lit: Edward Wadsworth, editions Sélection, XIII, 1933, p.6, and repr. p.40, as ‘Port de Mer’.
Repr: Artwork, I1, 1924–5, p.92; The Listener, 30 June 1949, p.1107.

Painted early in 1923, according to Mrs Wadsworth (20 December 1961), from sketches made in France during the summer of the previous year. The scene may be La Rochelle, since there is another composition of the same date which has been identified and belongs to the artist's daughter. Part of the fortress visible in the Tate painting appears in this second work but seen from a different viewpoint.

Bernard Windeler, the first owner of this picture, wrote the text of Sailing Ships and Barges of the Western Mediterranean and the Adriatic Seas, 1926, which Wadsworth illustrated. There is a pencil note on the back of the support; ‘Bought with my Prize Money B Cyril Windeler.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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