Alfred Wallis

Alfred Wallis (18 August 1855 – 29 August 1942) was a Cornish fisherman and artist.

Alfred Wallis
Wallis, Hold House Port Mear Square Island
The Hold House Port Mear Square Island Port Mear Beach, circa 1932, Tate Gallery.
Born18 August 1855
Died29 August 1942 (aged 87)
Madron workhouse, near Penzance
Resting placeBarnoon cemetery, St Ives
50°12′48″N 5°29′03″W / 50.213445°N 5.484258°WCoordinates: 50°12′48″N 5°29′03″W / 50.213445°N 5.484258°W
Home townPenzance
St Ives
Spouse(s)Susan Ward
Parent(s)Charles and Jane Wallis

Life and work

Alfred's parents, Charles and Jane Wallis, were from Penzance in Cornwall and moved to Devonport, Devon to find work in 1850 where Alfred and his brother Charles were born. Later, when Jane Wallis died, the family returned to Penzance. On leaving school Alfred was apprenticed to a basketmaker before becoming a mariner in the merchant service by the early 1870s. He sailed on schooners across the North Atlantic between Penzance and Newfoundland.[1]

Wallis married Susan Ward at St Mary's Church in Penzance in 1876, when he was 20 and his wife was 41. He became stepfather to her five children. He continued as a deep-sea fisherman on the Newfoundland run in the early days of his marriage allowing him to earn a good wage. After the death of his two infant children Alfred switched to local fishing and labouring in Penzance.

The family moved to St. Ives, Cornwall, in 1890 where he established himself as a marine stores dealer, buying scrap iron, sails, rope and other items. In 1912, his business, "Wallis, Alfred, Marine Stores Dealer" closed and Alfred kept busy with odd jobs and worked for a local antiques dealer, Mr Armour, which provided some insight into the world of objets d'art.

Following his wife's death in 1922, Wallis took up painting, as he later told Jim Ede, "for company".[2] He was self-taught, and never had an art lesson.[3]

Alfred Wallis tomb
Wallis' grave in St.Ives decorated in the style of his paintings

His paintings are an excellent example of naïve art; perspective is ignored and an object's scale is often based on its relative importance in the scene, giving many of his paintings a map-like quality. Wallis painted seascapes from memory, in large part because the world of sail he knew was being replaced by steamships. As he put it, his subjects were "what use To Bee out of my memory what we may never see again..."[2] Having little money, Wallis improvised with materials, mostly painting on cardboard ripped from packing boxes and using a limited palette of paint bought from ships' chandlers.

In many ways, Wallis' timing was excellent. In 1928, a few years after he had started painting, Ben Nicholson and Kit Wood came to St Ives and established an artist colony. They were delighted to find Wallis and celebrated his direct approach to image-making. Nicholson commented later that 'to Wallis, his paintings were never paintings but actual events'.[4] Wallis was propelled into a circle of some of the most progressive artists working in Britain in the 1930s.

The influence, however, was all one way; Wallis continued to paint as he always had. Nicholson later termed Wallis' art 'something that has grown out of the Cornish seas and earth and which will endure'.[5]

Through Nicholson and Wood, Wallis was introduced to Jim Ede who promoted his work in London. Despite this attention, Wallis sold few paintings and continued to live in poverty until he died in the Madron workhouse near Penzance. He is buried in Barnoon cemetery, overlooking St Ives Porthmeor beach and the Tate St Ives gallery. An elaborate gravestone, depicting a tiny mariner at the foot of a huge lighthouse – a popular motif in Wallis' paintings – was made from tiles by the potter Bernard Leach and covers Wallis' tomb.

Wallis believed that his neighbours resented his fame, believing him to be secretly rich.[3] In one of his last letters, to Ede, he wrote:[3]

i am thinkin of givin up The paints all to gether i have nothin But Persecution and gelecy [jealousy] and if you can com [come] down for an hour or 2 you can take them with you and give what they are worf [worth] afterwards. These drawers and shopes are all jealous of me.

Examples of Wallis' paintings can be seen at Kettle's Yard (Jim Ede's home) and at the Tate St Ives.

See also

External links

  • Images from the Tate gallery collection.


  1. ^ Heroes of Cornwall - Sheila Bird - 2004
  2. ^ a b Letter to H.S. Ede, 6 April 1935
  3. ^ a b c "Joy of the Coast". Coast. Series 8. Episode 3. 17 April 2013. BBC. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  4. ^ Ben Nicholson Exhibition Catalogue Galeries Beyeler,Basle 1968
  5. ^ Ben Nicholson; Arthur Wallis, New Horizon 1943

External links

1928 in art

The year 1928 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Alf Wallis

Alfred Russell "Alf" Wallis (16 April 1888 – 3 August 1963) was an Australian trade unionist and conciliation commissioner.

Born at North Carlton in Melbourne to carpenter William Wallis and Mary Ann, née Gorman, he attended state schools at Horsham and Moreland before becoming a cutter's apprentice and journeyman. He joined the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) when he was eighteen, and in 1906 was sent to gaol for thirty days for his part in the party's free speech campaign. On his release he joined the Victorian Clothing Operatives' Union and represented it in the Trades Hall Council, also being elected to the VSP's executive. However, the increased stress of these positions led to a breakdown and Wallis retired to the country to recover. He returned to his career in 1908 and in 1909 was elected president of the Victorian branch of the Federated Clothing Trades Union of Australia. From 1912 he represented his union at state conferences of the Australian Labor Party.In 1920 Wallis was appointed secretary of the Clothing Trades Union's Victorian branch and edited its journal, the Clothing Trades Gazette. At Collingwood on 5 March 1921 he married Josephine Wood. Wallis supported the Premiers' Plan and contested the Senate as a Labor candidate in 1931. In 1932 he was elected President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, and in 1933 he was appointed the workers' delegate to the International Labour Conference in Geneva. In 1934 he was general secretary-treasurer of the Amalgamated Clothing and Allied Trades Union, serving until 1944. A workers' representative on the Women's Employment Board during World War II, Wallis was appointed a Commonwealth conciliation commissioner in 1947 and resigned his union positions. He retired in 1953 and died at Fitzroy in 1963. Always a controversial figure, Wallis's later career made him enemies among his former union colleagues and his tendency towards prejudice against women and anti-Semitism made him unpopular among the clothing trades.

E. A. Wallis Budge

Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge (27 July 1857 – 23 November 1934) was an English Egyptologist, Orientalist, and philologist who worked for the British Museum and published numerous works on the ancient Near East. He made numerous trips to Egypt and the Sudan on behalf of the British Museum to buy antiquities, and helped it build its collection of cuneiform tablets, manuscripts, and papyri. He published many books on Egyptology, helping to bring the findings to larger audiences. In 1920, he was knighted for his service to Egyptology and the British Museum.

Lucy Wertheim

Lucy Carrington Wertheim (1882, Whitechapel, London – 1971, Brighton) was an English gallery owner who founded the Twenties Group of "English artists in their twenties" in 1930 and was Christopher Wood's main patron before his death.

She ran galleries in London, Brighton and Derbyshire and was known for encouraging many young artists and sculptors. In the 1920s she bought many works by Henry Moore and encouraged Cedric Morris.In 1930 she opened her first gallery at 3-5 Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London. It has been suggested that it was the artist Frances Hodgkins who finally persuaded or perhaps goaded Mrs Wertheim to move from enthusiastic supporter of 'modern art' to a fully fledged gallery owner. Wertheim recalls the incident in her 1947 book 'Adventure in Art' - "Frances exclaimed to my husband, 'Your wife should open a gallery for us poor artists: her enthusiasm would make it a success!'...Those words however spoken more than half in jest, sowed a seed in my mind that was to bear fruit later."Whatever finally got her to open the gallery, there were many artists who were no doubt glad she did. Those either exhibited there or supported by Wertheim included Walter Sickert, Rodney Gladwell, Humphrey Slater, Helmut Kolle, Vivin Hume, Phelan Gibb, John Bigge and John Banting, Henry Stockley, Nando Manetti, Rowland Suddaby, Leslie Hurry, Isla Rodmell, Kenneth Hall, Basil Rakoczi, John Melville, Feliks Topolski, David Burton, Cedric Morris, Alfred Wallis, Frances Hodgkins, Elizabeth Rivers, Mostyn Lewis, Jose Christopherson, David Gommon, Kathleen Walne and Christopher Wood amongst many others.


Sansom is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Ann Sansom, English poet

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C. J. Sansom (born 1952), British writer

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Wallis (surname)

Wallis may refer to:

Alfred Wallis (1855–1942), a Cornish fisherman and artist.

Barnes Wallis (1887–1979), a British scientist - inventor of the bouncing bomb

Diana Wallis, a British politician

E. A. Wallis Budge (1857–1954), an Egyptologist

Gary Wallis, percussionist for rock group Pink Floyd

George Olivier, count of Wallis (1671–1743), a Habsburg Austrian field marshal

Gustav Wallis (1830–1878), a German plant collector

Hal B. Wallis (1898–1986), an American motion picture producer

Henry Wallis (1830–1916), a British painter

Hilda Wallis (1900–1979), Irish tennis player

Jim Wallis, an American social justice Christian activist

Jimmy Wallis, a British athlete

John Wallis (1616–1703), a British mathematician

John Braithwaite Wallis (1877–1961), a Canadian entomologist

Jon Wallis, a British professional footballer

Joni Wallis, American cognitive neurophysiologist

Ken Wallis, a British pilot

Larry Wallis, a British rock musician

Michael Wallis (born 1945), American journalist and popular historian

Olivier, Count of Wallis (1742–1799), a Habsburg Austrian general

Provo Wallis (1791–1892), a British Naval officer

Quvenzhané Wallis, born in 2003, an American child actress

Ruth Wallis, an American singer

Samuel Wallis (1720–1795), an English navigator, for whom Wallis Island is named

Shani Wallis, a British actress and singer

Stewart Wallis, an advocate for transition to a new economic system

Thomas Wallis, (1873–1953), British Art Deco architect. Established Wallis, Gilbert and Partners

W. Allen Wallis (1912–1998), an American economist and statistician

William Wallis (cricketer)

William Alfred Wallis (14 December 1878 — 12 November 1939) was an English cricketer who played for Derbyshire during the 1906 season.

Wallis was born in Long Eaton, Derbyshire the son of William Wallis and his wife Emma. His father was a lace manufacturer with the firm of Wallis and SonsWallis made his first and only first-class appearance for Derbyshire in May 1906 against Marylebone Cricket Club. Wallis was bowled out in his first innings on 6 by Walter Mead, and in the second on 11 by Alec Hearne. He was a right-handed batsman, and made one catch in the outfield.Wallis died in Wilsthorpe at the age of 50.

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