Not since the first major publications on this subject over three decades ago—among them A History of American Marine Painting, 1968, and the exhibition catalogs for "Seascape and the American Imagination," 1975, at the Whitney Museum and "American Marine Painting," 1976, at the Virginia Museum—have we seen such a magisterial visual survey of the field. In the interim much has been added to the literature, including studies of important neglected figures like William Trost Richards and William Stanley Haseltine, as well as focused exhibitions devoted to lesser but appealing names like James A. Suydam and Francis A. Silva.
Alan Granby and Janice Hyland add to this rich legacy with new attention to the prolific and versatile career of James Buttersworth, especially his beautifully drawn racing compositions and harbor scenes. The authors also reevaluate the maritime paintings of Antonio Jacobsen, with his accomplished handling of ship rigging and magnificent seas, as well as the colorful and charming folk variations of ship portraiture in the popular work of James Bard. There are illuminating sections here devoted to American artists painting American ships and harbors. Additionally, there are artists who worked abroad in England, Europe and the Orient who created images depicted here of American vessels and foreign ports.
Classic examples along with rediscovered unknown works by key artists like Robert Salmon and Fitz Henry Lane are by no means neglected. A particularly interesting painting by the latter depicts a heavy-laden lumber schooner rolling on listless seas, with superb treatment of the patched hanging sails. Great care has been taken in the selection of the artists and the choice of paintings presented, most of which are from private collections.
The expanses of sea and shore have long been an integral part of the American vision, beginning with the experiences of European colonists crossing the vast stretches of ocean to reach the horizons of the New World, and continuing with the nineteenth-century adventurers and settlers who traversed the continent from "sea to shining sea," crossing the "amber waves of grain" in their prairie schooners. Granby and Hyland lavish their primary concentration in this American story on the robust decades of the nineteenth century, when our waters were the constant setting for commerce, pleasure, and the embodiment of national purpose. –John Wilmerding, author of American Marine Painting, 1987
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