A convoy, 1918

A convoy of merchant ships painted with dazzle colours during World War I, shown from a low viewpoint. While most are cargo ships that on the extreme right is a cargo liner. Everett has used form, shape and colour to convey the scene. The ship in the foreground, bow view, flies the American flag, and is painted with dazzle patterning over the hull of the ship and the smoke stack. Smoke billows to the right and is repeated in the other ships in the convoy. The waves are reduced to stylized patterning with the curved white crests shown in thick impasto paint. The wave in the foreground is shown with an exaggerated sweep as it rises on the right. The ships are set against a deep blue sky.

The British marine artist Norman Wilkinson, 1878–1971, initiated dazzle painting for ships during World War I. This involved painting the sides and upper works of a ship in contrasting colours and shapes arranged in irregular zebra-like, angular patterns to create a distorted effect. This was designed to deceive enemy shipping about the size, outline, course and speed of a ship, since the consequent distortion made it impossible to assess speed and distance and therefore made attack problematic. The Vorticist Edward Wadsworth was one of the artists designing these effects. Everett has responded to the artistic possibilities of dazzle painting, by exploiting form and colour.

Object Details

ID: BHC1387
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Everett, (Herbert Barnard) John
Date made: 1918
Exhibition: Art for the Nation; Artists' Bequests War Artists at Sea
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Bequeathed by the artist 1949.
Measurements: Painting: 796 x 952 mm; Frame: 935 mm x 1090 mm x 74 mm; Overall: 17.2 kg

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