William Roberts is a British painter of figure compositions and portraits. He was a pioneer of abstract art before the First World War. Roberts worked outside the mainstream. Later in his career he would describe himself as an English Cubist.
In 1914 Roberts joined the short-lived art movement the Vorticists, founded by the artist and writer Wyndam Lewis. The Vorticists believed that British art at this time was in a decayed state. Their aesthetic combined the geometrical fragmentation of Cubism with Futurist machine-like imagery.
During the First World War, Roberts was a gunner on the Western Front. Later he became a war artist, a position he held in both world wars. He is best remembered for his large complex and colourful compositions.
Roberts has marked this reference picture with a grid to help him to transfer it to canvas. The canvas is marked with a corresponding grid allowing the picture to be enlarged and transferred one square at a time.