Alfred Wallis

Two Boats

c.1928

Artist
Alfred Wallis 1855–1942
Medium
Oil paint on board
Dimensions
Support: 213 x 305 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Mrs Doris Sealy 1975
Reference
T01970

Not on display

Display caption

Alfred Wallis was a seaman, ice cream seller and rag-and-bone man before he took up painting in old age. He said he painted ‘what used to be’ and many of his works depict a remembered past.In 1928 he met professional artists Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, for whom Wallis’s work represented an instinctive and naïve folk art. As such, Wallis seemed to belong to the tradition of rustic characters common in literature, and represented a link to an apparently timeless English culture.

Gallery label, July 2007

Catalogue entry

T01970 TWO BOATS c.1928

Not inscribed
Ship's oilpaint on cardboard, 8 3/8×12 (21.1×30.5)
Bequeathed by Mrs Doris Sealy 1975

On the reverse of a Selfridge's box lid bearing on a label the date 13 October 1925. The two boats are small cutter-rigged fishing smacks, typical vessels of the 1890's and early 20th century, worked mainly out of Brixham and Plymouth. The painting may depict two cutters in Mounts Bay, which was an important fishing ground on the South Coast, though there are no precise identifying landmarks. Margaret Mellis has drawn attention to the ‘Wallis Moon’ (t.l.)-a downward facing crescent which, as she says, is not his invention but corresponds to the real position of the moon on September evenings, as she has observed it for three successive years (1972–75).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978

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