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Alfred Wallis (1855-1942)

Biography of the painter Alfred Wallis (1855-1942)

Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) was a Cornish fisherman and artist. In the early 1870s, he became a mariner in the Merchant Service.

He married in 1876, when he was 20 and his wife 41, and became step father to her five children. The family moved to St Ives in 1890 where he established himself as 'Wallis, Alfred. Marine Stores Dealer'. Following his wife's death in 1922, Wallis took-up painting, as he later told Jim Ede 'for company'.

Wallis' paintings are a fine example of naive art; perspective is ignored and an object's scale is often based on its relative importance, which gives his paintings a map-like quality.

Wallis painted his seascapes from memory in large part because the world of sail, which he knew, was in transition and being replaced by steamships. As he said, his subjects were "what use to bee out of my memery what we may never see again".

Having little money, Wallis improvised with materials, mostly painting on cardboard ripped from packing boxes and using a limited palette of paint bought from ship's chandlers.

In 1928, Ben Nicholson and Kitt Wood came to St Ives where they were delighted to discover Wallis and celebrated his direct approach to image making. Wallis was propelled into the circle of some of the most progressive artists working in Britain in the 1930s.

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Lot FS18/334

Lot FS18/334: Alfred Wallis [1855-1942] - The Mariners

Alfred Wallis [1855-1942] - The Mariners - oil on paper (half a brown envelope) 21 x 22cm Inscribed on the reverse by Michael snow with provenance.

Estimate: £7,000 - £10,000
Realised: £6,800