Thomas Somerscales ranks high among the elite of all marine artists and perhaps the finest within his stylized sphere. Concerned directly with the aesthetic quality of the painting's entirety rather than its stark draftsman-like detail, this work is a fine example of his consummate skill as a marine painter. Running downwind, a full rigged ship sheets home her sails and sets her fore royal as her studding sail booms are run out in preparation for ‘cracking on' all available canvas.
The sun is high and the sea is an unmistakable ‘deep water' blue. Somerscales shows his mastery at handling light and shadow on sun-bleached sails. Elements of this painting are blended into a striking ensemble of sea, ship and sky. The ship realistically suggests a sense of rising and falling on the ocean swells and provides the viewer a strong sense of the feel of the wind.
From his unique vantage point in Valparaiso, Chile, a primary seaport for vessels in the pacific trade, Somerscales was able to observe first hand the vessels active in the waning days of merchant sail. He continued to portray the subjects he knew so well that his later paintings are considered some of the finest and most appealing examples to record this important era.
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