Edward Wadsworth

The Beached Margin


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Not on display

Edward Wadsworth 1889–1949
Tempera on canvas on wood
Support: 711 × 1016 mm
frame: 910 × 1215 × 85 mm
Purchased 1938

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With its unexpected juxtapositions and shifts in scale, and its precise tempera technique,
The Beached Margin is typical of Wadsworth’s still lifes. Although never a Surrealist, his paintings incorporated disconcerting imagery that related to the work of de Chirico. Widely travelled, Wadsworth was better informed than most British artists about developments in the Continental art world. In the early 1930s he joined Unit One, a group of artists and architects who were determined to bring Modernism into British culture.

Gallery label, April 2010

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘E. Wadsworth 1937’ b.l.
Tempera on linen laid on panel, 28×40 (71×101·5).
Purchased from the artist through Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd (Clarke Fund) 1938.
Exh: Tooth's, April–May 1938 (13); Tate Gallery, February–March 1951 (30); Venice Biennale, 1952 (British Pavilion, 72).
Repr: John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1962, p.256.

The artist seems to have stopped painting landscapes and harbour scenes such as T00497 by about 1925 and turned to still life, often composed of shells and mechanical objects with a nautical connotation, binoculars, sextants, for example, sometimes set against a seascape background. ‘The Beached Margin’ is a logical development of this type of subject which is perhaps partly inspired by Surrealist techniques, but also owes much to Léger, whose style Wadsworth imitated briefly in a series of still lifes of 1930–2. (Cf. also N05147.)

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

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