4 March 2016
Our work of the week is Five Ships – Mount’s Bay (c.1928) by Alfred Wallis. This is one of five works from our collection that is explored in detail in A Handful of Objects, our new online resource.
Alfred Wallis often painted the ships he knew from his youth, the types of sailing ships that were being replaced by large steamboats. Despite being painted from memory, the ships in this painting show a large degree of technical accuracy. In the painting five Cornish luggers (small sailing ships) are shown sailing into Mount’s Bay. Mount’s Bay is a place for shelter in stormy weather. The ships here are shown with only a small amount of sail unfolded, suggesting strong winds and a possible storm. Wallis’s knowledge of the ships is also demonstrated in the attention to detail of the rigging. The painting does, however, play with perspective, showing us a more personalised view than accurate one. Wallis includes two lighthouses, which would not in reality be visible together in this way. He often included lighthouses in his artwork, which emphasise the fraught and fragile relationship between humans, boats and the sea.
Find out more about this piece through film, photos and archival resources here.