Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Find | Edward Wadsworth's Ship Camouflage

Above What a complete surprise to have found this, on the cover of the magazine section of The Detroit Free Press (Sunday, July 20, 1919). We've blogged about it before, seven years ago in May 2011, because we had a found a photograph of British Vorticist painter Edward Wadsworth in the process of completing this famous painting. Wadsworth was one of the few Modern-style artists who had actually served as a ship camoufleur during World War I. Most were academy-trained traditionalists, or Impressionists at best. To experience its full impact, you can see a color version here.

When this black and white reproduction was published, there was a caption below it that read—

Above is a reproduction of Lieut. E. Wadsworth's striking Navy picture, entitled Dazzle Ships in Drydock at Liverpool—dazzle, of course, being English for camouflage. This is a big, vital and realistic piece of painting, notwithstanding the necessarily cubistic look of its angular, geometric pattern, scientifically designed to confuse the eye of the hostile range-finder at sea. This reminds us that the invention and application of dazzle camouflage is perhaps the greatest of several factors contributed by artists to the winning of the war, as it enabled Canada and the United States to transport their armies to France in comparative safety, and then, after putting them into the fight, protected them with more camouflage of the military kind.