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Giacomo Guardi (1764-1835): Veduta Della B.V. Della Salute e Dogana di Mar, watercolor and gouache on paper, lot 7, October 24, 2015, sold $5,795.
Giacomo Guardi (1764-1835): Veduta Della B.V. Della Salute e Dogana di Mar, watercolor and gouache on paper, lot 7, October 24, 2015, sold $5,795.

Summer by the Sea

Summer holidays at the seashore are full of sun, sand and swimming. They can also offer the opportunity to view myriad examples of Marine Art and seascape painting at local art galleries. Travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries would often buy landscape, cityscape and seascape paintings and watercolors as mementos of their voyages, creating a collecting genre for seascape art that continues today. 18th century seascape views by artists like Canaletto and Guardi were purchased on the Grand Tour and are today prized by collectors. The history of Marine Art dates back to the time of the earliest vessels used on water in ancient Egypt. Its history and subject matter follow cultural and economic developments through to the present day, making it an interesting collecting area for those interested in history, boats and seafaring.

Seascape, marine and maritime painting all draw inspiration from the sea as their primary subject matter. Marine paintings are figurative, with the compositional focus on a boat or ship engaged in some kind of narrative story. Maritime art is also figurative and narrative, but its focus is on seafaring for trade or military purposes. The genre of maritime painting has a long history that dates back to the 17th century Dutch Golden Age painters who painted naval battles and depictions of Dutch trade ships battling the high seas. Marine art also includes the genre of “Ship Portraits”. In the Middle Ages, artists depicted individual ships in a style similar to portraiture. Many important painters in the 18th and 19th centuries continued this tradition, and engravings and lithographs made after these paintings were wildly popular at the time.

James Buttersworth (1871-1894): New York Yacht Club Race Off Sandy Hook, oil on canvas, lot 240, June 28, 2014, sold $79,300.
James Buttersworth (1871-1894): New York Yacht Club Race Off Sandy Hook, oil on canvas, lot 240, June 28, 2014, sold $79,300.

Seascape paintings are similar to landscape paintings in that they can take on many forms and styles. In general, a seascape work depicts a view of the sea or coastline, often with few or no figures, and with an eye towards creating a feeling of emotion and sensibility rather than conveying a narrative. The sea as a subject lends itself to dramatic views of roiling waves, as well as calm sunsets over tranquil beaches. Artists from all centuries have found inspiration in the sea. Winslow Homer is probably considered the greatest seascape painter. Some of his paintings are pure seascapes, with the focus on palette and tone without a figurative subject. Other notable Homer works depict famous ships and are more closely related to marine art. The 19th century American Luminist painter Fitz Hugh Lane is known for his marine scenes depicting ships in harbor and seaside settings on the coast of Massachusetts. Thomas Buttersworth was an Englishmen who settled in America and painted commissioned portraits of ships. His son, James, joined him and is known for his marine paintings of New York Yacht Club regattas.

Claude Monet (1840-1926): Impression Sunrise, oil on canvas, 1872.
Claude Monet (1840-1926): Impression Sunrise, oil on canvas, 1872.

Many 19th and early 20th century artists painted seascapes, including the Fauves painters, the Pointillistes and the Impressionists. Claude Monet’s famous painting Impression, Sunrise, from 1872, is a seascape view of the harbor in Le Havre and is credited with giving the name Impressionism to the movement.

The traditions of seascape and marine painting continue today and are flourishing in seaside communities. We are pleased to be offering many seascape and marine works of art over the summer months in our Exposition auctions.

For inquiries regarding the maritime scenes featured in our sales please contact us at 518-751-1000 or info@stairgalleries.com.

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