Dazzled Ship in Drydock (Greenwood W/D 34) The rare woodcut, 1918, on wove, with margins, 128 x 218mm (5 x 8 1/2in)(B)
Wadsworth's period as a supervisor of the wartime program for the camouflaging of ships, know as Dazzle Ships, in the Liverpool dry docks inspired a series of eight woodcuts in 1917 and 1918 which Clifford Ackley regards as "among the greatest achievements of early twentieth-century English graphic art". In 'Dazzled Ship in Drydock', "there are no intermediary gray tones: absolute black and white produce a vibrant optical dynamism that mimics the camouflage program itself". The "realistic in conception" underlying image is constantly undercut by the bold and optically disorienting abstract patternings; Wadsworth's Dazzle Ship flattens to two dimensions, loses its distinct edges and dissolves into its surroundings.
Although there are known impressions on japan paper, the current impression is printed on textured wove. Wadsworth experimented with the visual effects of a variety of papers even for impressions from the same block. We have found no impressions having come to the market since 1990. Although Greenwood records eight impressions in public art collections such as the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, The British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, he also comments that the present woodcut is "not at all well known".
Clifford S. Ackley, "Rhythms of Modern Life", in British Prints from the Machine Age: Rhythms of Modern Life 1914-1939, ed. Clifford S. Ackley (London: Thames & Hudson, 2008), 22.