Wadsworth was born in Yorkshire. After a brief period spent studying engineering in Munich, he attended the Slade School of Fine Art, London from 1909 to 1912. Wadsworth was one of the original members of Wyndham Lewis's vorticist movement and one of the first British artists to adopt a machine-orientated type of abstraction. He visited France regularly in the 1920s, and was influenced by artists such as Léger and also by the Surrealists. Wadsworth was particularly drawn to nautical themes, composing bizarre still lifes in beach settings. A devotee of early Italian painting, he preferred tempera to conventional oil paint.