Alfred Wallis

Alfred Wallis (British, 1855-1942)

Alfred Wallis was a mariner, ice cream maker, ships supplies merchant and rag-and-bone man before taking up painting in his 70s after his wife died. His unique, untutored vision in many senses marked the start of the back-to-nature instinctive stance of Modern British art, following his ‘discovery’ by Christopher Wood and Ben Nicholson in St Ives in 1928 and after the benefaction of Jim Ede of Kettle’s Yard. Wallis himself revealed that he painted his memories of his seafaring life in order to preserve the past: “What I do mosley is what use to Bee out of my own memory what we may never see again as thing are altered.” Nowhere is this more true than in the present drawing, made after Wallis was confined to the Poorhouse in the 1940s on paper given to him by Nicholson.