Edward Wadsworth was born in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire in 1889 and he gained a scholarship to study at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, between 1908 and 1912, alongside C.R. Nevinson, Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer amongst others. He exhibited in various exhibitions including the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition, and, alongside Wyndham Lewis with whom he was at the Slade, joined Roger Fry's Omega Workshops. Wyndham Lewis and Wadsworth were heavily influenced by the Italian Futurist, and as a result founded Vorticism, beginning with the publication of the first edition of Blast in July 2014. During World War I, Wadsworth served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve until he was invalided home in 1917. During this period he was inspired to paint one of his best-know works, Dazzle-Ships in Drydock at Liverpool (1919, NG, Ottowa).
By the beginning of the 1920s, Wadsworth had become fascinated with marine and maritime subjects, developing a distinctive type of highly composed marine still life. The influence of Surrealism is palpabale in the uncanny, misplaced, out-of-ordinary context atmsophere of many of these works. He travelled frequently to Europe, contributing to the Paris journal Abstraction-Creation. Back in Britain, he was a founder member of Unit One, alongside Ben Nicholson and Paul Nash. Throughout his career he turned to slightly unsual media, including a residing interest in woodcuts and egg tempera paint, which he made himself.