4 Sea-Inspired Paintings

Guest post by Rohit Agarwal.

Ever since the first marine creature grew legs and evolved into us land dwelling humans, the oceans have been a subject of curiosity and have been associated with several myths and human emotions. The seas have also been one of the most popular subjects for painters who have depicted the sea’s several moods and settings. Most people would agree with the fact that there is something really hypnotizing about the seas. Also known as Maritime art or Marine art, sea paintings have existed since 12,000 BC and have been depicted in the works of several notable artists. If you’re an art fan then here are some of the best maritime paintings in the world.

1. The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
Photo by Seetheholyland.net, CC BY 2.0

Painted in 1633 by the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rjin, the painting depicts a biblical incidence of Jesus Christ calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Painted in oil on canvas, the painting’s dimensions were 160 cm × 128 cm and was last displayed in the Isabella Gardner Museum of Boston, United States. Rembrandt van Rjin was a Dutch Golden Age painter who was associated with the Baroque style prevalent in Europe. The painting sadly was stolen during a robbery that occurred on March 18th 1990. The robbery was a part of what is considered as one of the biggest art thefts in the history of the United States and still remains unsolved.

2. The Shipwreck
The ShipwreckFrom Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Shipwreck is one of the most iconic of seascapes canvas paintings and was painted in 1772 by French painter Claude Joseph Vernet. The painting is currently displayed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, US. The Shipwreck depicts the sea in one of its most devastating settings, the sea storm, which was also one of Claude Joseph’s favorite tasks. Much like the regular car wrecks and airplane crashes today, shipwrecks were a very common incident during the 18th century before the discovery of Air travel. The painting does a great work at depicting a sea storm with a lot of drama.

3. The Wave
The Wave
Photo by Mike, CC BY 2.0

A brilliant specimen of Japanese woodblock painting during the late Edo period, The Wave was painted by the 19th century artist Katsushika Hokusai. The painting is not only one of Hokusai’s finest works but is also one of the most iconic works Japanese arts around the globe. The painting depicts a giant tsunami like wave threatening sailing ships by Kanagawa a prefecture in Japan with the peak of Mount Fuji visible in the background. There are several theories related to the nature of the imposing wave depicted in the picture as several believe the wave to be an okinami (wave of the open sea) and not a Tsunami. There are several copies of this painting displayed in the various art museums in the UK, US, Australia and France.

4. The Stages of Life
The Stages of Life
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Considered to be one of the greatest German allegorical oil paintings, the Stages of Life was painted in 1835 by the German landscape painter Casper David Friedrich. Friedrich completed the painting exactly 5 years before his death and displayed a transient take on life and mortality. The painting depicts an old man in the foreground with his back turned towards the viewer who is walking towards two adults and two children on a hilltop. The hilltop overlooks a harbor with 5 ships sailing at alternating distance from the harbor. The painting is an allegorical reference to a human’s life and represents the various stages of life. The old man is considered to be the painter himself with his two daughters and one son, and the young man is the painter’s nephew. The sea depicted in the painting is the coast of the Baltic Sea in the Province of Pomerania which was once a part of the Swedish territory. This seems to explain why the children in the painting are holding a Swedish flag.

Almost 3/4th of the earth is surrounded by the great oceans and seas. If you ask us, there’s plenty of water on earth for one to get really bored of. Yet, looking at the sea and its activities in the form of waves, sunset, sailing ships etc. has always been one of the most enchanting experiences.

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