Summer Seascapes

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 22, 2009

28 May — 18 October, 2009

An Allegory of Empire,” — Benjamin Genocchio, New York Times (26 June 2009)


Samuel Atkins (fl. 1787-1808), "H.M.S. Bounty Setting Sail," pen, ink and watercolor painting (New Haven: YCBA)

A small exhibition of marine paintings and watercolors from the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ and by noted British artists — including scenes of famous naval battles, warships, privateers and historical vessels — is featured in a summer exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art.

Seascapes: Marine Paintings and Watercolors from the U Collection includes works attesting to Great Britain’s maritime capabilities, interest in scientific exploration and imperial expansion. On view through October 18, the exhibition features approximately 20 works from a recent major gift to the Yale Center for British Art that span the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries and attest to the visual and cultural significance of the sea in Britain and the Netherlands. The center is the only venue for the exhibition.

Marine painters of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ helped to shape the image of Holland as a seagoing nation, celebrating the trade that brought the country its wealth and the ships that helped to achieve naval and commercial dominance. The U Collection includes a number of works by Dutch artists previously unrepresented in the center’s collections.

In 1672 the Dutch marine painter Willem van de Velde and his son, also named Willem, emigrated to London at the invitation of King Charles II and were installed in a studio at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, charged with “taking and making off Draughts of Sea Fights.” The paintings and drawings the van de Veldes produced proved influential for a nascent British school of marine painters, who introduced depictions of coastal and river shipping as well as naval battles. Peter Monamy was one of the first British artists to become known primarily as a marine painter; his work “An English Royal Yacht standing offshore in a calm” is featured in the exhibition.

Britain’s rise to naval dominance during the eighteenth century is charted in the works of a number of artists, including French-born Dominic Serres, who became a founding member of the Royal Academy; the merchant sea captain-turned-artist Nicholas Pocock and Samuel Atkins.

A group of coastal views in watercolor by three nineteenth-century artists — George Chambers, Edward Duncan and Thomas Sewell Robins — reflects the aesthetic impact of the romantic movement, particularly the work of J.M.W. Turner, on the depiction of the sea.

The curator of Seascapes: Marine Paintings from the U Collection is Eleanor Hughes, assistant curator of exhibitions and publications. The U Collection was given to the center in appreciation of Choh Shiu and Man Foo U and of Dorothea and Frank Crockett.

[Text from Yale’s Office of Public Affairs]

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