Born in 1855 Alfred Wallis was an English fisherman, scrap merchant and painter. Claiming to have gone to sea at the age of nine, Wallis was involved in deep-sea fishing and had sailed as far as Newfoundland, Canada. In 1890 he moved to St Ives where he became a marine scrap merchant. He retired in 1912 and when his wife died in 1922 he took up painting to keep himself company.
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