A Convoy of the First World War

The First World War saw the general introduction of 'dazzle-painting', an idea of the artist Norman Wilkinson to help protect ships from enemy surface raiders and submarines by camouflaging them with zig-zag lines of many colours. It helped to conceal them in poor visibility, impeded easy identification and visual range-finding, and was adopted by several navies and merchant fleets. The picture was painted for the Ministry of Information, possibly from ahead to show how dazzle camouflage was assymetric, not the same on both sides of a vessel. The ship to the left flies the American flag of the stars and stripes at the fore topmast and the French flag at the main topmast, perhaps to indicate she was carrying troops and equipment from the USA to France in late 1917 or 1918. The one in the centre painted largely green has been formerly identified a Cunarder, though the reasons are uncertain. The artist has not paid attention to detail but has concentrated on the painterly effects and the colouring on the ships, sea and sky. He has consciously delineated the patterns created on the sides of the ships and on the water, but no evidence has been found to show the dazzle designs represented were ever applied to specific vessels. Everett did not sell his marine work during his lifetime but bequeathed all of it to the National Maritime Museum, London. It consists of oil paintings and a large number of drawings and engravings. He was a practical deep-water sailor, understood his subject and his work manifests the knowledge gleaned from living on board. He was also a fine draughtsman and saw sails, ropes and deck fittings in terms of rhythmic patterns. This enabled him to produce powerful and vigorous compositions.

Object Details

ID: BHC0668
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Everett, (Herbert Barnard) John
Date made: circa 1918
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Bequeathed by the artist 1949.
Measurements: Frame: 651 mm x 846 mm x 79 mm;Overall: 10.2 kg;Painting: 535 x 730 mm

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