Alfred Wallis - New Now London Wednesday, December 5, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Charles Anthony Adams (acquired circa 1970)
    Thence by descent

  • Catalogue Essay

    In this double-sided painting both images depict Cornish lug-sail fishing boats (luggers) returning to harbour. After years working aboard merchant sailing ships Alfred Wallis worked as a fisherman with the Newlyn and Mousehole fleets. His paintings demonstrate a considerable understanding of the working methods of these fishing boats, which can only have come from personal experience.

    In (Recto) Luggers nearing a Harbour and Lighthouse, three luggers sail towards a harbour with a lighthouse at the end of the pier, which is most probably either Newlyn or Penzance. In the foreground two unmanned luggers are at anchor as was often the practice in the area of water known as Gwavas Lake, just outside Newlyn. Period photographs of fishing boats moored on Gwavas Lake, and Stanhope Forbes’s painting Fish sale on a Cornish Beach, 1885, depict such a scene.

    (Verso) The ‘Bessie’ and the ‘Flying Scud’ sailing towards a harbour, depicts two fishing luggers sailing towards a harbour. Both boats display their port registration numbers on their sails. PZ 484 was a lugger named ‘Bessie’, a second class mackerel boat launched in 1870, owned and mastered by Charles Pearce of Newlyn. The boat was 42 foot long and carried a crew of six. It was lost at sea in December 1905. PZ 484 ‘Bessie’ also appears in other Wallis paintings: Black Boat and Grey Sea, (Private Collection), 40 PZ and PZ 484 (Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge), implying that Wallis knew the boat well and had perhaps worked aboard. Indeed it is known that Wallis worked aboard the second boat in the painting, PZ 11 and depicted it in many paintings. It was a first class, 45 foot long lugger called Flying Scud. First registered in 1867 she fished until 1893 when she was broken up. Half-yearly crew sheets say she was constantly employed in fishing and had a crew of seven.

    The current work wonderfully demonstrates Wallis's intrinsic connection between his work and knowledge as a fisherman and the paintings he produced.

    We are grateful to Robert Jones, author of Alfred Wallis, Artist and Mariner, 2018 (3rd edition) for his assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.


(Recto) Luggers nearing a Harbour and Lighthouse; (Verso) The ‘Bessie’ and the ‘Flying Scud’ sailing towards a harbour

signed 'alfred Wallis' upper right recto
oil and graphite on board, two sided
20 x 25.4 cm (7 7/8 x 10 in.)
Executed circa 1928.

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £20,000

Contact Specialist
Simon Tovey
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 5 December 2018