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Displaying items by tag: Maritime

Since the colonial period, the Atlantic Ocean has operated both as a barrier between America and Europe and as a conduit for international exchanges of peoples, goods, and ideas. It spurred commerce and enterprise that was the basis for both national economic activity and personal fortune. The activities in America’s great harbors and port cities also supported the nation’s cultural development, prompting the rise of schools of maritime and landscape painting, as well as portraiture.

The exhibition "The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art" in America explores these themes and the breadth of experiences through which artists and their audiences engaged our coastlines, while simultaneously highlighting substantial developments in American artistic currents. With fifty-two paintings and ten maritime artifacts dating from the eighteenth- through the early-twentieth centuries, the exhibition illustrates the sublime drama of the oceanic environment; the importance of America’s early naval battles; breathtaking vistas where water, land, and light meet; and depictions of the men and women who animated Northeastern port cities.

Visit to read the full marine paintings article.

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Collectors Charles and Irene Hamm have donated $1 million and 165 works from their collection of coastal art to the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT. The collection includes oil paintings by Robert Henri, Thomas Hart Benton and Rockwell Kent as well as watercolors by Fairfield Porter and William Trost Richards. The generous monetary gift will help fund the construction of an 18,000-square-foot New Wing, which will include a Charles and Irene Hamm Gallery. The bequest will also increase the museum’s endowments for operations and acquisitions.

John R. Rathgeber, Chairman of the museum’s Board of Trustees, said, “With the donation of Charles and Irene Hamm, the New Britain Museum will have one of the most outstanding collections of coastal art in the country.” The museum plans to hold thematic exhibitions drawn from the Hamm’s holdings. A number of the significant works will be loaned to other institutions throughout the country and, in the future, the New Britain Museum plans to organize a traveling exhibition of highlights from the Hamm Collection.

Charles Hamm, a successful advertising and financial mogul, and his wife Irene, an educator, have been collecting for several decades. Charles’ affinity for maritime scenes was spurred by his love of sailing.

Construction is expected to begin on the New Britain Museum’s New Wing in 2014.

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England’s British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, which closed in 2008, is in hot water after nearly 150 works that were lent to the museum while it was still open have been deemed missing. To make matters worse, a number of the pieces were sold at auction without their owners’ permission.

Most of the museum’s collection has been turned over to the Bristol city council, which is carrying out a full audit. In addition, trustees of the museum are in negotiations with the eight displeased owners to work out compensation agreements. While no arrests have been made, trustees of the museum have been involved in an ongoing dispute with the former director, Gareth Griffiths, over the missing works.

Among the 144 works that have disappeared is a nineteenth-century oil painting belonging to Lord Caldecote. Caldecote’s father, a well-known engineer and industrialist, lent the work by maritime master, Thomas Buttersworth, to the museum. After his father’s death, Caldecote asked for the painting to be returned. Sadly, the painting’s whereabouts are unknown as Christie’s sold it for almost $100,000 back in 2008.

There are no reports of personal profits from the sales and it is believed that the mix-up occurred because it was unclear whether objects had been given to the museum or were there on loan.

The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum opened in 2002 and aimed to tell the story of Britain’s colonial past through objects. While the institution was initially lauded, it was unable to attract enough visitors to keep it afloat. Plans to move the museum to London were scrapped after the country fell on tough economic times.

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On September 24th, Christie’s presented their American Furniture, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts Sale in New York. Spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, works included furniture from the Wunsch Americana Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and American folk art and maritime paintings. The sale was 85% sold by lot and 93% by value.

The top lot was a Chippendale carved mahogany easy chair that was entrusted to Christie’s by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Estimated at $600,000-$900,000 and attributed to the renowned yet mysterious Garvan carver, the chair brought in $1.16 million, the third highest price ever paid for the form. “We are thrilled to have been the successful bidders on the Garvan Carver easy chair. It is a wonderful chair,” said Todd Prickett of C.L. Prickett who specializes in American antiques. The Museum will use the funds for new acquisitions.

Another lot that brought in more than expected was a Queen Anne Japanned Maple Bureau Table. One of about forty known examples of japanned furniture from colonial America, it is the only bureau table known to exist. Estimated at $60,000-$90,000, the table sold for $98,500.

Two paintings by the maritime artist, Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (1850–1921), sold for more than their estimates that ranged from $12,000 to $18,000. The Paddlewheel Steamer St. John went for $45,000 while Fred B Dalzell went for $25,000.

Not all lots did as well as anticipated. A pair of Federal eagle-inlaid mahogany side chairs attributed to William Singleton were estimated at $60,000 to $90,000 but only sold for $32,500. The pair of chairs had been lent to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the Department of State in 1968 and remained in the Monroe Reception Room as part of a larger set of four related chairs until they were returned to the Wunsch Americana Foundation. Until know, the location of this particular pair was unknown.

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Friday, 02 September 2011 03:28

Maritime Portsmouth: The Sawtelle Collection

Over the last quarter of the twentieth century, collectors Joseph G. and Jean E. Sawtelle built a major collection of maritime art and artifacts related to the port town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Their ultimate goal was to create a maritime museum in Portsmouth, but the museum vision withered with the unexpected passing of Joe Sawtelle in 2001. This summer, the Portsmouth Historical Society and Portsmouth Athenaeum are exhibiting the entire Sawtelle collection, including earlier gifts to both institutions.

One hundred and ninety paintings, prints, and artifacts are on exhibit at the Portsmouth Historical Society’s Discover Portsmouth Center, through August 30, while artifacts and paintings related to the USS Kearsarge form the core of the exhibition at the Portsmouth Athenaeum, through September 17, 2011. The collection is documented in Richard M. Candee, editor, Maritime Portsmouth, The Sawtelle Collection (Portsmouth Marine Society). For more information visit
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