Edward Wadsworth's Dock Scene tops Christie's Prints auction at $50,000

A superb woodcut print titled Dock Scene from Edward Alexander Wadsworth has topped Christie's sale of Prints and Multiples, held on April 16 in London.

Edward Wadsworth Dock Scene
Wadsworth continued painting naval scenes following his service in the first world war

The woodcut was created circa 1918 following the first world war, in which English artist Wadsworth had been employed to design the striking dazzle camouflage for Allied ships.

With the print a stunning example of Wadsworth's vorticist style, it sold within estimate at £30,000 ($50,160).

The camouflage was intended to confuse U-boats, disguising the ship's speed and direction

Dazzle camouflage was used on the ships of the first world war, not to make them invisible to enemies, but to confuse U-boats attempting to determine their direction and speed of travel. Following the war, Wadsworth continued his nautical theme, with one of his most famous works, Dazzle Ships in Dry Dock, emerging in 1919.

It's therefore likely that the present work was created in preparation for Dazzle Ships in Dry Dock, which is housed in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Inspired by cubism, vorticism emerged in Britain during the early part of the 20th century, with a group of artists - including Wadsworth and Ezra Pound - publishing a manifesto that rejected traditional motifs in favour of the striking geometric and abstract style.

However, the movement was short-lived, as the first world war left many of its artists dead or disillusioned.

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