Painter and illustrator Edward Wolfe was born into a Jewish family in Johannesburg, South Africa on 29 May 1897. In 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, he moved to Britain to study art, initially at Regent Street Polytechnic, and then, from 1916-18, at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he met Nina Hamnett, who introduced him to Roger Fry. Wolfe became associated with Bloomsbury, first exhibiting at Fry’s Omega Workshops, and sitting to his portrait by Duncan Grant, c. 1921. He also exhibited at the London Group in 1918 (elected 1923), holding his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg in 1920, and his first solo UK exhibition at the Mayor Gallery, London in 1926. Between 1926 and 1931, he was also an active member of the 7&5 Society, despite living and working part of the decade in Paris and Italy. Wolfe’s bold use of colour invited comparison with the work of the Fauves, most often Matisse, although art historian and curator Mary Chamot likened him to ‘an English Gauguin’. Although naturalised in Britain, he continued to travel widely, spending long periods in Mexico and the United States. He exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1951 to 1970 and was elected a Royal Academician in 1972. The Arts Council arranged a retrospective in 1967.
Edward Wolfe died in London, England on 8 July 1982. His work can be found in UK public collections including the Ben Uri Collection, Charleston, the Government Art Collection, Manchester Art Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and Tate.