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Edward Wadsworth British, 1889
oil on canvas 304.8 x 243.8 cm Transfer from the Canadian War Memorials, 1921
National Gallery of Canada (no. 8925)
It was the British marine painter Lieutenant-Commander Norman Wilkinson who came up with the idea of painting battleships with huge zig-zag bands and bold diagonals as a form of "dazzle" camouflage at sea. The dizzying stripes and masses of contrasting colours worked to visually break up the ship's forms, making it difficult for enemy submarines to accurately determine its course. Wadsworth was enlisted to oversee the painting of over two thousand ships at major British ports. It is not surprising that his official war commission featured one of these freshly painted vessels in drydock.