Edward Wadsworth, ‘S.S. Jerseymoor ’, 1918, Osborne Samuel

Printed in black on Japan paper.

The SS Jerseymoor is an exquisite woodcut of 1918, a classic image for a Vorticist artist like Wadsworth who helped in the design of ‘dazzle camouflage’ during WWI.

In 1917 Edward Wadsworth was hired to oversee the application of 'dazzle' patterning to ships in the Liverpool and Bristol dockyards. Dazzle camouflage was devised as a means of frustrating the attempts of German U-boat commanders to calculate the exact course and speed of an allied merchantman. By breaking up the outline of the hull with irregular patterns painted in stark colours, a ship became more difficult to target accurately, reducing its chances of a direct and fatal hit by torpedo. During 1918 nearly 2500 ships were being painted at any one time and the results of this dazzle camouflage were successful to the war effort and something to which Wadsworth was very proud.
For a Vorticist artist these 'dazzle' ships with their cubist informed patterning were an obvious subject matter. In 'S.S. Jerseymoor' Wadsworth created a pictorial equivalent of the 'dazzle', conflating the diverging diagonals of the barrels in the foreground with the striped ship, rigging, warehouses and cranes in the middle-distance. The result is dynamic and visually disorientating, perhaps not too dissimilar in effect to the view of a dazzled ship glimpsed from a U-boat periscope.

Signature: Signed lower right, titled & dated lower left

Greenwood W/D 35
Colnaghi catalogue 130

Private Collection
Lord Timothy Willoughby of Eresby (grandson of Nancy Astor)
Osborne Samuel, UK

About Edward Wadsworth