An interesting homage to the issue of rank amongst the crews and officers of all vessels, a captain is carried to his ready command by one of his subordinates through the ocean surf in this coastal scene by William Edward Norton. It is along the Dutch Coast, as is recorded by the artist himself with an old label verso, extremely rare for this artist to have provided any identifying information for his painted subject.
We are told as well that it is a fishing boat, although the thick, rounded hull and dropped sideboard would have made that our first guess, as well as its Northern Europe nationality of the vessel. It was on these shores that Norton perfected his art, following in the steps of William Edward Cook, famous for such scenes through the 1850s.
A serene implication falls over the composition with Norton’s intentionally muted, soft sky tones; the atmosphere feels cool and heavy, yet the colors of the ship’s rails and hulls pop in their blue, green and red hues. The crashing white impasto of the surf gives the scene not only depth, but practically a third dimension with its thick application. The overall feeling of optimism for their success makes this a great and unusual vertical coastal scene, a perfect compliment to a traditional ship portrait.
Label Verso: Off the Coast of Holland, Fishing Boat Ready For Sea.
William E. Norton, 21, Camden Rd., London NW
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