Woodcut 1918; original size 19.9 x 25.8cm.
South Docks, Liverpool – still extant and recognizable from this print, but during the war it was here that dazzle ships were painted. British merchantmen were camouflaged, not to make them invisible, but so that German u-boat torpedo gunners would find it harder to determine their course and speed, and so would not be able to sink as many as they had been doing.
This strikingly bold print – see also Drydocked for Painting and Scaling, its companion print – is in some ways an inaccurate portrayal because dazzle was in fact applied in shades of grey, blue, white, green and pink. But here Wadsworth not only excludes these colours, he excises all extraneous detail. In these brilliant renditions, then, the forms are stronger and starker, and the tones are condensed to an optically more powerful black and white.