Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Montgomery, AL



Ship to Shore: Marine Paintings from the Butler Institute of American Art

January 8 - February 27, 2000


Standing on a shore and looking out to sea can conjure up a variety of compelling images from roguish men manipulating their way through rough seas to scenes of immigrants arriving upon the shores of a new homeland. American artists have captured this general fascination with marine culture since colonial times. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is pleased to present Ship to Shore: Marine Paintings from the Butler Institute of American Art, a traveling exhibition of approximately sixty works of art from the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio. (left: William Trost Richards (1833-1905), Land's End, Cornwall, 1888, oil on canvas)

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, artists were commissioned to produce portraits of sailing vessels, which were instruments of commerce, transportation, and physical power. Some of the finest examples of marine portraiture were created in the 19th century by artists such as Thomas Birch, James E. Buttersworth, and Antonio Jacobsen. (right: Joseph H. Boston, Silver Moonlight, 1915, oil on canvas)

America's affinity for its coastlines was demonstrated by turn-of-the-century leisure activities. As cities became crowded, waterfront retreats were the destination for the growing middle class. In the early 20th century, studies of nature, as in the meditative seascapes by Emil Carlson and Frederick Judd Waugh, were still prevalent. However, ocean views used as background for reclining, active, or introspective figures became more commonplace. Artists like Augustus Vincent Tack, William Glackens, and George Grosz utilized these subjects. Other 20th century representations of coastal life range from Stuart Davis' cubist harbor buildings that obliterate any actual view of the coast to Reginald Marsh's representation of the American scene movement portraying the energy and realities of New York City's harbor. (left: James E. Buttersworth (1817-1894), Valparaiso , c.1855, oil on canvas)

The works comprising this exhibition are drawn from the permanent collection of the Butler Institute of American Art. The museum's founder, industrialist Joseph G. Butler, Jr., was an early collector of marine works and ship portraiture. His response to the marine genre was one of a genteel patron paying homage to the majesty and power of the earliest American fleets. Throughout the past 75 years of the Butler's existence, the marine collection has been enhanced by continuous acquisitions of historical ship portraiture and works of art reflecting the mystery and beauty of marine culture. (left: William Bradford (1823-1892), Afternoon on the Labrador Coast, 1878, oil on canvas)

The exhibition, sponsored locally by Jim Wilson & Associates, Inc., Fred & Bess Blackmon, and Colonial Bank, will be on view in the Young Gallery through February 27, 2000.

For more information on this traveling exhibition see From Ship to Shore: Marine Paintings (6/4/99).

Read more about the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/23/10

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