Considered one of three great 20th Century painters of the French Navy, maritime painter Roger Chapelet had a passion not only for the sea, but also the ships and people who braved the elements to sail great distances or fight on behalf of their countries.
Born Albert Roger Édouard Chapelet, he caught a love of the sea as a young man while visiting his brother- a radio operator in the great French port of Marseilles. After making studies of various ports he went to sea in 1929, sailing to Newfoundland and Greenland to paint the vessels and men of the local fishing fleets.
In the 1930’s he became the official peintre de la Marine for the French Navy- a position he held for the rest of his life. As a part of the French Navy he sailed all over the world. During WWII he served on transatlantic convoys, and later as commissioner of the Navy in the Mediterranean. He would continue to follow and paint French naval actions including those in Indochina and Algeria, creating an archive important to the historical record.
Later in life Chapelet became the official artist of several shipping companies. For both naval and merchant subjects Chapelet is particularly remembered for his knowledge and accuracy gained over so many years at sea. He was adept at making both realistic and detailed portraits of ships in oils as well as graphic images for his commercial clients more in the style of the great art deco period travel advertisements.
He was the recipient of many honors over his lifetime and his work is particularly highly regarded in France where he was made a knight of the Legion D’Honneur in 1960 and in 1974 he became the President of the Marine Academy in France. His work can be found in museum collections around the world.