Robert Salmon (Anglo/American, 1775-1858)
British and German Vessels in a Stiff Breeze at the Mouth of a Harbor
Signed and dated "R. SALMON/1840" l.r., inscribed "No 53/Painted by R. Salmon/1840." on the reverse, inscribed with provenance information in a later hand on the reverse.
Oil on panel, 14 x 20 in. (36.0 x 51.0 cm), framed.
Condition: Fine craquelure, surface grime.
Provenance: Thought to have been acquired in London c. 1922; to Stephen Wheatland, Brookline, Massachusetts; by descent to Richard Wheatland II; by family descent to the current owner.
Literature: John Wilmerding, Robert Salmon, Painter of Ship & Shore (Salem, MA: Peabody Museum of Salem and the Boston Public Library, 1971), p. 98.
N.B. Salmon was born in Whitehaven in Cumberland, England, but little is known about him before his move to Liverpool in 1806. It has been surmised that given his knowledge of sailing and rigging, Salmon probably spent some of his early years at sea. Although a number of paintings, all showing Salmon's mature style, predate the 1806 move, it was at this time that the artist began the formal inventory of his paintings. His style was based on the older English marine artists, themselves influenced by the Dutch. In 1828 Salmon immigrated to the U.S., settling in Boston where he established a successful career painting ship portraits and coastal views. Even before Salmon left Boston for good, probably in 1842, to return to Britain, his thoughts had clearly traveled back across the Atlantic.
This work, number 53 in the artist's inventory of paintings and completed in 1840, shows coastal craft that are pointedly not American. It depicts a British revenue cutter approaching a German merchant vessel. The Black White Red is the merchant flag of Germany c. 1840. While the exact port shown is uncertain, it is most probably Scotland, either Dundee or the River Clyde region. Salmon painted a number of Scottish ports, and Scotland and Germany were active trading partners at this time.
We would like to thank Charles Lanagan for his kind assistance in cataloging this lot.
This painting appears in John Wilmerding's book under Appendix A, where, in the notes from 1839 and following, Salmon appears to have starting renumbering with No. 1 and ended with No. 55 in July 1840.
Small dot of off-white pigment in the sail on the left near the ensign. Probable varnish discoloration as well as surface grime.
Framed dimensions are 17 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches.
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