A Downeaster runs under a full spread of sail and a rosy, luminous afternoon sky in this telling marine narrative painting by Duncan Gleason. Suggestive of the coastal Pacific Ocean with which Gleason was so familiar as an artist and a yachtsman, the rolling swells indicate that the large merchant ship is running somewhat perpendicular to the tide, with her sails aligned to catch the onshore wind. Unconcerned with the direction of the wind, except for the dispersion of its smoke exhaust, a large commercial freighter makes headway in the other direction further out to sea.
Gleason chose to paint many specific subjects; the important works he did of the U.S.S. CONSTITUTION come readily to mind, and the many famous yacht portraits he did for Hollywood elite sailors, such as Errol Flynn, Charlie Champlain and Cecil B. DeMille. He also purposely did a smaller array of different types of ships in action, concerned primarily with the emotion and setting of these ships and not so much their identities. This is one such great example. The massive, atmospheric white cloud bank is alight with color from the reflective sun, in contrasting complement to the deep blues and broad strokes of Gleason’s wet brush throughout the ocean. The sailing ship itself pops in the angle of the full light and obscures some in deeper shadows, giving depth and movement both a presence within the painting.
Provenance: Private Laguna Beach, California Collection.
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