Marine and Maritime Paintings in the Collection

Though most Hudson River School artists are best-known for their paintings of landscapes, depictions of maritime and coastal scenery appear throughout the development of the movement, playing a very important role in conveying the intellectual, aesthetic, social and historical influences of the time.

The early nineteenth century saw the War of 1812, expansion into the American west, and urban industrialization, all of which provided the social and historical conditions that would motivate these painters to pursue their natural subjects. Marine painting in America developed from these influences, drawing its inspiration from British and Dutch maritime painting of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These traditions influenced early-nineteenth century artists such as Robert Salmon and Thomas Buttersworth, who then, in turn, influenced their later nineteenth century counterparts.

In many ways, the nineteenth century can be considered a flourishing or coming-of-age of American painting; the romantic sensibilities that emerged from the formal decades that proceeded would advocate sublimity and aesthetic freedom in all of the American arts; following the War of 1812, James Fenimore Cooper released novels set at sea with patriotic overtones. Simultaneously, Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau began to turn towards nature in their writing, beginning to encompass the foundations of transcendentalism; the Hudson River School artists were to be their counterparts.

The early half of the nineteenth century saw artists like Thomas Cole, Thomas Doughty and J.F. Kensett turning from increasingly industrialized urban centers to paint rocky coastlines and pristine landscapes. Although these artists are most well-known for their landscape paintings, their seascapes foregrounded a movement towards the coast in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1844, Thomas Cole traveled to Maine to sketch and paint the coast of Mount Desert, which has been revisited time and time again by the artists who followed.


Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

View Across Frenchman’s Bay From Mt. Desert Island, After A Squall,1845

Oil on Canvas

157.5 x 96.5 cm

Cincinnati Art Museum

Maritime painting emerged more clearly with the second generation of Hudson River School artists. Works by Fitz Henry Lane, Martin Johnson Heade, William Bradford and many of their contemporaries saw an increase in the sea-as-subject. Fitz Hugh Lane was one of the first American marine painters, and is best-known for his seascape paintings.


Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865)

Off Mount Desert Island, 1856

Oil on canvas

24 x 36 1/8 in. (61 x 91.8 cm)

Brooklyn Museum

Meanwhile, artists like James Hamilton introduced signature styles to the subject matter, bringing painterly innovation of light and color to the field of American marine painting. Hamilton, in particular, was a great influence to his students, Thomas and Edward Moran.


Edward Moran (1829-1901)

Shad Fishing on the Hudson, 1873

Oil on Canvas

13.5 x 23.5 inches

Hawthorne Fine Art

Alfred Thompson Bricher – best known for his paintings of the rocky New England shoreline – spent much of 1858 sketching excursions to Roxbury, Massachusetts and Mount Desert Island, Maine, where he worked side by side with fellow landscape and marine painters, Charles Temple Dix and William Stanley Haseltine.


Alfred Bricher (1837-1908)

Mt. Desert Island, 1863

Oil on Canvas

8 x 16 inches

Hunter Museum of American Art


Alfred Bricher (1837-1908)

Catskill Scenery, 1860

Oil on academy board

16 1/2 x 13 1/4 inches

Signed and dated 1860, lower right

Hawthorne Fine Art

Throughout the nineteenth century, American painters depicted the marine characteristics of the nation’s history – from maritime industries, such as shipbuilding and whaling, to the naturalistic tendencies that turned many artists away from representations of urban centers. The collection at Hawthorne Fine Art encompasses a wide range of subject matter, and includes a number of pieces that embody this nuanced and varied tradition. Paintings by Hudson River School artists Samuel Colman and Charles Henry Gifford, as well as by Impressionists John Willard Raught and Augustus Vincent Tack, grace the collection.


Samuel Colman (1832 -1920)

Governors Island, New York Harbor, 1875

Oil on Canvas

11 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches

Signed and dated 1875 lower right

Hawthorne Fine Art


Charles Henry Gifford (1839-1904)

Near Bear Island, ME, 1874

Oil on Canvas

8 1/2 x 15 inches

Signed lower right

Hawthorne Fine Art


John Willard Raught (1857-1931)

Coast of Maine, 1905

Pastel on Board

6 x 9 inches

Signed and dated 1905, lower left

Hawthorne Fine Art


Augustus Vincent Tack (1870-1949)


Oil on Canvas

15 x 18 inches

Signed lower right and lower left

Hawthorne Fine Art


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