Monday, July 27, 2009

Portsdown Hill, 1778 by Dominic Serres

This spectacular scene captures the incredible views from nearby Portsdown Hill. Dominic Serres (also known as 'Dominic Serres the Elder'), was a French born painter, born between 1719 and 1722. He was strongly associated with the 'English School of Painting' and particular maritime styles. He was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768. Serres was born in Auch, Gascony. He became a ships captain, and around the 1740s, whilst sailing to Cuba he was taken prisoner by the British Navy. He settled in London in 1758 where he may have trained as an artist under fellow maritime painter Charles Brooking. He died in 1793.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nicosia - 1894

Sable Island

This painting shows a portrait of the barque Nicosia. The artist chose an imaginary dramatic storm setting for his painting made in 1881 long before the vessel actually met her fate on the sands of Sable Island.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

United States Maritime Expansion across the Pacific during the 19th Century

The westward expansion of the United States during the 19th century was not limited to North America, but rather included an ongoing push to establish a stronger U.S. presence in and across the Pacific Ocean. This maritime expansion, driven mostly by commerce, had important implications for U.S. foreign policy.

The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud" off the English coast. Painting by James E. Buttersworth. (1859-60)

The appeal of profits to be earned from the China trade served as the initial impetus to motivate U.S. citizens and officials to enter into the Pacific region. China was the source of some of the world’s most sought after commodities—tea, porcelain, and silk—and Western merchants had sought access to this highly lucrative trade since at least the 17th century. Following U.S. independence, U.S.-based merchants continued to seek opportunity in China. In February 1784 the Empress of China became the first ship to sail from the United States to China, and in its wake came a steady flow of merchants in search of wealth. During the first decades of the 19th century, U.S. merchants amassed sizable fortunes that they subsequently invested in the development of their homeland. As this trade grew, U.S. traders built a small outpost in China and their interactions with Chinese subjects became more complex and occasionally contentious. The U.S. Government realized that it had to establish formal diplomatic ties in order to protect the interests of its citizens. In the wake of war between Britain and China, and the subsequent opening of diplomatic relations between those two countries, the United States moved to negotiate its own treaty with the Chinese Government. The resulting agreement, the Treaty of Wangxia, was ratified in 1844, and soon thereafter U.S. ministers and consuls took up residence in China’s capital and port cities.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guildhall Art Gallery - current exhibitions

Paintings by Trevor Chamberlain(11 May – 26 July 2009)

Guildhall Art Gallery is pleased to be showing new and recent work by Trevor Chamberlain, who first exhibited here in 1970 in the annual Lord Mayor’s Art Award (in which he was a prize winner in 1976). Concentrating mostly on marine subjects, town scenes and landscapes painted en plain air , in both his oils and his watercolours Trevor Chamberlain seeks ‘to create an impression of nature and the spirit and atmosphere of a particular place, rather than a precise representation’. This exhibition of more than a hundred evocative and light-filled oil paintings and watercolours includes London subjects alongside views from as far afield as Armenia, India and Iran. Some works are available for purchase.

Born in Hertford in 1933, Trevor Chamberlain began painting at the age of 7. At 12 he enrolled in painting classes under Alfred Wright at the Ware Institute, but apart from this he had no formal art training. He worked as an architectural draughtsman until 1964, since when he has worked full time as a professional artist. He made his first painting trip abroad to Venice in 1970 and has since painted in every continent except Australia. Chamberlain has exhibited widely in London (including at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions and the Royal Watercolour Society) as well as elsewhere in the UK and overseas, and his works are held by numerous public and private collections. He is a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Wapping Group of Artists, of which he has been President, and he is also a Past President of the Chelsea Art Society. He has also published two books on oil painting – Oil Painting Pure and Simple (1987) and Oils (1993) – and one on watercolour – Trevor Chamberlain A Personal View (1999), while sixty years of painting were celebrated in 2006 with the publication of England and Beyond.