Height 19 ¾ inches Width 23 ¾ inches
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‘The Ark and the Dove off the Scillies with Lord Baltimore aboard’ by Montague Dawson, reputedly a commission for the White House, oil on board, showing the two ships of Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, on their first expedition to Maryland in 1632. The Ark and the Dove departed from Gravesend in Kent, sailing through the Channel past the Isles of Scilly. Signed, a paper label on the reverse stating ‘Montague Dawson was commissioned to paint this picture of “The Ark and the Dove of the Scillies with Lord Baltimore aboard” for the White House and when it arrived they found it was too small. He therefore painted a larger one of the same subject, which is now hanging in the White House’alongside the trade label of Frost & Reed. English, circa 1960.
Provenance: Frost & Reed, Bristol and London
Marine Arts Gallery, Salem, Massachusetts
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1988
Footnote: Montague Dawson RMSA, FRSA (1890–1973) was born in West London, in Chiswick in 1895, Montague Dawson was the grandson of Victorian landscape painter Henry Dawson. He studied under the seascape artist Charles Napier Hemy at the Royal Academy. He also worked in an art school in Bedford Row. Dawson joined the navy during World War I and painted naval battles for illustrated magazines. He first met his mentor, Hemy, while on leave from the Royal Navy and frequented his studio in Cornwall. Hemy advised Dawson, “You must follow after me and you must do better than me.”
After the war Dawson became a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy in London and began a life-long exclusive relationship with the Gallery Frost & Reed in London. He was also an associate of the Royal Society of Artists and a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. He was an official war artist during World War II.
Dawson’s paintings are instantly recognizable by many. He developed a style and approach to marine painting that was completely his own, it was consistent throughout his long developing career. Dawson combined what he called ‘portraits’ of clipper ships and racing yachts with ‘landscapes’ at sea in order to lure the viewer into “that moment of time”, as he said, in which “you can hear the sea –that sea.” The dazzling array of oceans and skies in Dawson’s work is encapsulated by his evocative titles such as “Song of the Sea” or “Vast Heaving”. Dawson was as at ease painting Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Yacht “Bluebottle” racing in the Solent as he was summoning the great clipper ship “Cutty Sark” from its noble past.
“Shortly before his death in 1973,” writes Ron Ranson in his 1993 monograph, “a remarkable tribute was made to Montague Dawson. He looked out of his window one day to see two fully rigged training ships, the Royalist and the Sir Winston Churchill, apparently sailing straight towards his house on the shore. At what appeared to be the very last moment, they turned about, and both ships dipped their ensigns in salute to the man who had probably done more than any other to capture the magic and majesty of sail” (Ron Ranson, The Maritime Paintings of Montague Dawson, Newton Abbot, Devon, 1993, p. 15).
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‘The Ark and the Dove off the Scillies with Lord Baltimore aboard’ by Montague Dawson, reputedly a commission for the White House