Have you ever seen a beautiful oil painting depicting an ocean scene and experienced that you are attracted to the painting? You are not alone. It is accepted between art lovers that ocean paintings are the one genre of art capable of evoking strong emotions.
Reproductions of famous ocean paintings are often part of an individual’s private selection. The art collector generally has a good reason, which is linked to some or other emotion, to offer why that specific work has been bought.
Art lovers and academics agree that there is a special attractiveness in ocean paintings. To compile a list of the most famous ones is not so easy. Art connoisseurs and art lovers often debate at art conferences and exhibitions which works are “world-famous” and why. The paintings discussed in this article are some of the paintings who most art lovers either have or would like to have, in their selections.
‘Becalmed off Halfway Rock’ by Fitz Hugh Lane
Fitz Hugh Lane is considered to be one of the greatest marine painters. He is famous for his works with the realistic “portrait-feeling”. In this painting, two large ships are portrayed, accompanied by three small support boats. The rock between the two ships gives a focus point when you look at the painting. This is an excellent example of maritime art.
It was painted in 1869 and can be viewed at the Washington, National Gallery.
‘The Ninth Wave’ by Ivan Aivazovsky
This painting is very famous and represents a group of castaways fighting the waves. The emphasis is on the struggle between the helpless survivors and the ruthless ocean. But it seems as if the painter wants to take the viewer’s attention away from the struggle and to entice you to focus on the mystical sun in the background.
According to art connoisseurs and academics the painter, Aivazovsky, reached technical perfection in this painting. It was painted in1850 and is currently exhibited in the St. Petersburg State Museum.
‘Monk be the Sea’ by Caspar David Friedrich
Since Caspar Friedrich painted this masterpiece in 1809/10 art lovers and connoisseurs have been debating or what the painter wanted to convey. The scale of the monk compared to the ocean gives a mystical feeling to the painting.
Some art academics interpret it that the monk is in a dialogue with the ocean, while others see the ocean as a symbol of the monk’s thoughts which are as wide as the ocean – much larger than the monk himself. This artwork can be viewed at the Berlin National Gallery.
‘La Terrace de Sainte Adresse’ by Claude Monet
This work was painted in 1867 and is one of Monet’s most famous paintings. Currently, it is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
In this famous painting, the sea is seen as friendly and accessible. People like to visit the recreational area near the sea. The painting depicts a relaxed society. When looking at the painting you get the impression that you are invited to come and sit on the open chair with the other people.
The painting is composed of three levels – land, sea and sky and the flags give the illusion of a light ocean breeze.
‘Celia Thaxter’s Garden, Isles of Shoals, Maine’ by Childe Hassam
This painting is one of a series of works by the painter Hassam. The series portrays a wildflower garden on the Isles of Shoals. The poet Celia Thaxter was his friend and she cultivated this beautiful garden, overlooking the sea.
The masterpiece is regarded as one of Hassan’s best paintings as American Impressionist. If you’d like to appreciate the beauty of this artwork, you can visit The Met Fifth Avenue, in Gallery 769.
‘Emerald Sea’ by Albert Bierstadt
‘Emerald Sea’ is a more contemporary painting. It was painted in 1978. Bierstadt was at that stage living in the Bahamas. It is possible, but not necessarily so, that it is one of the beaches in Nassau.
However, it is most probably a metaphor for something quite different than the sea. It seems to art academics as if he wanted to express his feelings related to his wife’s health who was suffering from tuberculosis. Also, a sunken ship as seen in the painting usually involves death.
‘The Wave’ by Katsushika Hokusai
This famous artwork from the 1830s by the Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai is a woodblock print. The sea is depicted as a monster threatening everything with its fangs. No ship can cross the sea safely. Even the sacred Mount Fuji in the background could be a victim of this evil wave.
According to art selectors, it is always good to have a painting which depicts an ocean scene in your collection, even if your collection is very small. If you want to acquire any of the paintings mentioned above, or are intrigued by famous ocean paintings and maritime art, do some further research on a well-established gallery’s site which sells reproductions like the 1st Art Gallery.