A look into the genre of Maritime Art

6/07/2021     News Stories & Press Release, Old Master & 19th Century Pictures

Marine Art & Dutch Golden Age

 

After Joseph Mallord William Turner RA, 1775-1851- Venice, from the Porch of Madonna della Salute; oil on canvas, Estimate: £1,500- £2,500

Maritime painting is a genre of art that celebrates and depicts all aspects of the sea and can be roughly sorted into categories including ‘ship portraits’, ‘paintings of ships at sea, and inshore, coastal’ and ‘harbour scenes’. This genre was especially popular from the 17th to 19th centuries. It was not until the end of the Middle Ages that marine art developed into a distinct genre, in the form of depicting a single vessel, but still was considered under the concept of landscape art. During the Dutch Golden Age (1588 – 1672), Dutch trade, science and art and the military force were at its height and that was when Maritime art separated from landscape genre and emerged its own group. The first career marine artists were established due to the needs to reflect and record the importance of overseas trades. Around 1500s, Protestant Reformation was a religious movement across Europe that had a strong restriction on religious art. Other non-religious types of art, including landscape art and marine art, progressively increased in Protestant countries due to the religious movement.

 

‘Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men

Look'd at each other with a wild surmise

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.’- John Keats, 1795–1821

 

British Marine Art - Romantic Era

 

Nicholas Matthew Condy, 1816-1851, A first rate ship-of-the-line beating up Plymouth Sound and calling for a pilot to take her into the Hamoaze; oil on panel, Estimate: £4,000- £6,000  The tradition of marine painting style was presented the sea only from a bird’s eye view with a symmetrical balance. However, as new methods were discovered. Hendrick Vroom and Cornelius Claesz started to paint from a horizontal perspective and focused on realism by accurately portraying the scenes, rather than being attentive in symmetry. By the 17th century, marine merchants as well as sea captains began to commission marine art specialists. As the sea trade flourished, culture and aesthetic style were brought into Britain. Willem van de Velde the Elder and his son, the Younger strengthen the root of British Marine art tradition. Marine art was booming in the country during the Romantic Era, roughly from 1800 to 1850. One of the reasons could be attributed to England’s geographic location. The advantage of being an island, meant that Britain’s marine power was enhanced. Therefore, the very nature of marine art served as a visual documentation of Britain’s naval power and most of the sea battles. Robert Cleveley, a marine artist, was recruited and encouraged by Captain William Locker to work on HMS Thames and to paint the important battles they had experienced at sea. During the Romantic Era, the audience expanded initially from sailors and naval offices to the general public due to the powerful navy culture at this time. In addition, amongst the English marine artists, Thomas Butterworth influenced American marine art tradition and his artworks, especially ‘The War of 1812’, was favoured by American collectors.

Nicholas Matthew Condy, 1816-1851, A first rate ship-of-the-line beating up Plymouth Sound and calling for a pilot to take her into the Hamoaze; oil on panel, Estimate: £4,000- £6,000

The tradition of marine painting style presented the sea only from a bird’s eye view with a symmetrical balance. However, as new methods were discovered. Hendrick Vroom and Cornelius Claesz started to paint from a horizontal perspective and focused on realism by accurately portraying the scenes, rather than being attentive in symmetry. By the 17th century, marine merchants,  as well as sea captains began to commission marine art specialists. As the sea trade flourished, culture and aesthetic style were brought into Britain. Willem van de Velde the Elder and his son, the Younger strengthen the root of the British Marine art tradition. Marine art was booming in the country during the Romantic Era, roughly from 1800 to 1850. One of the reasons could be attributed to England’s geographic location. The advantage of being an island, meant that Britain’s marine power was enhanced. Therefore, the very nature of marine art served as a visual documentation of Britain’s naval power and most of the sea battles. Robert Cleveley, a marine artist, was recruited and encouraged by Captain William Locker to work on HMS Thames and to paint the important battles they had experienced at sea. During the Romantic Era, the audience expanded initially from sailors and naval offices to the general public due to the powerful navy culture at this time. In addition, amongst the English marine artists, Thomas Butterworth influenced American marine art tradition and his artworks, especially ‘The War of 1812’, was favoured by American collectors.

 

Maritime Art in the Old Master & 19th Century Pictures Sale, 20 July, 2021 at Roseberys 

 

Edward William Cooke RA, British 1811-1880, Fishermen landing their catch at Scheveningen; oil on canvas, Estimate: £8,000- £12,000

 

Leading the maritime art highlights in the upcoming Old Master & 19th Century Pictures sale on the 20th July, is lot 115, on offer by British Master, Edward William Cooke RA, 1811-1880, - Fishermen landing their catch at Scheveningen; signed and dated '1852', measures 55 x 94.5 cm. The oil on canvas comes with an estimated price of £8,000 - £12,000. In 2019, one of his marine paintings, ‘Calm on Zuider Zee: A Zuider Zee fishing haven’, was sold at Christie's, London (British & European Art: Victorian Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art) and reached £85,000 (including premium) with an estimate £80,000 - £120,000.

 

 Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom

Manner of Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom, 18th century- Shipping scene in stormy weather; oil on panel

 

This work, lot 11 in the upcoming Old Master & 19th Century Pictures auction at Roseberys, considered to be in the manner of Hendrik Cornelisz Vroom (c.1562 – 1640), is credited with being the founder of Dutch seascape painting during the Dutch Golden Age. His artworks were painted from a lower horizon view and showed a more realistic depiction of the sea compared to the ‘birds-eye’ perspective he painted during his early-stage career.

 

An example of a maritime work that sold well at Roseberys, in the circle of Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom, Dutch 1562-1640, was a Dutch triple master on choppy waters with a whale and a sea-monster; oil on canvas, which sold for £23,750 in the Old Master, 18th & 19th Century Pictures in the 4 June 2020 auction.

An example of a maritime work that sold well at Roseberys, in the circle of Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom, Dutch 1562-1640, was a Dutch triple master on choppy waters with a whale and a sea-monster; oil on canvas, which sold for £23,750 in the Old Master, 18th & 19th Century Pictures in the 4 June 2020 auction.

 

 Nicholas Matthew Condy

Nicholas Matthew Condy, 1816-1851, A first rate ship-of-the-line beating up Plymouth Sound and calling for a pilot to take her into the Hamoaze; oil on panel, Estimate: £4,000- £6,000

 

Another maritime work on offer in the upcoming Old Master & 19th Century Pictures auction at Roseberys, by a British artist, is lot 117. This work of art was painted by Nicholas Matthew Condy (1816-1851). Condy grew up and lived in Plymouth until his death. Lara L’vov-Basirov, new Associate Specialist at Roseberys comments on the work: ‘His work gained admiration from the Earl of Egremont, one of Turner’s patrons, and he exhibited three maritime paintings at the Royal Academy between 1842 and 1845.’ The specialists also commented on its composition, ‘In the present work, the first-rate ship sits at the centre of the composition with the pilot boat in the left foreground transporting the maritime pilots between land and the ship, which is to be piloted from Plymouth Sound into the Hamoaze, its primary inflow of water’. In 2016, ‘The R.Y.S. cutter yacht Ganymede, with the owner J.H.W. Pigott Smyth Pigott Esq. on deck’ by Nicholas Matthew Condy was sold for £18,125 (premium) at Christie's South Kensington.

 

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