Description: signed, inscribed Tarmac and dated 1919 pen and ink and watercolour
Dimensions: 25.5 by 30cm.; 10 by 11¾in.
Exhibited: New York, David and Langdale and Co., British Drawings and Watercolours, 1889 - 1947, 1984, no.38.
Literature: Edward Wadsworth, The Black Country, Ovid Press, London, 1920;
Jonathan Black, Edward Wadsworth: Form, Feeling and Calculation, Philip Wilson Publishers, London 2005, pp.34 - 39.
Provenance: Sale, Sotheby's London, 10 May 1989, lot 81
Henry Boxer Gallery, London
Notes: Wadsworth had first become aware of the industrial landscapes of the Black Country during the First World War when he had travelled regularly through the area by train whilst engaged on official work into naval camouflage. In 1919 he produced a series of small-scale drawings and watercolours based on what he had seen. Thirty-seven of these were exhibited in January 1920 at the Leicester Galleries and were extremely well received by the critics. The general view seems to have been that Wadsworth had successfully combined the desolate landscape with elements of abstraction. 'The Abstract artist is acquiring a language of form which applied to representative work renders it particularly alive. The distinctive nature and character of the Black Country has been seized by Mr Wadsworth and epitomised into a strange message of force' (Daily Herald, quoted in The Black Country, op. cit.). '... [He] has brought into representational art a severe sense of form and rhythm, and a logic of organisation not to be found in the work of artists depending entirely on visual impressions. These qualities enable him to distil art of the highest order out of material that to the ordinary painter would be not only unpromising but positively forbidding' (P.J. Konody in the Observer, quoted in The Black Country, ibid.).
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