Highly regarded by those aware of his artistic works, John Benson achieved a personal satisfaction with being a professional artist, a lifelong passion of his. Both John and his older brother Frank Benson showed promise at an early age, and the family encouraged John to pursue a profession as an architect once Frank had established his reputation as an artist.
As an architect, Benson was very successful, studying in Paris and then designing homes and public buildings throughout the Northeast. Never abandoning his desire, in the 1920s he took up his brushes again for good, and purchased a home with his wife in Kittery, Maine. He counts marine paintings as his favorite subject, but also painted landscapes, murals, and portraits. The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine presented an exhibit on the artist, “North Light: Discovering the Sea Paintings of John P. Benson” by Margaret Betts in 2006. His recognition is increasing in width and the esteem his art continues to gain.
In this large painting we find a maritime narrative of a large merchant ship departing an American headland in the Northeast, reminiscent in emotion and presentation to works of William Norton and Edward Moran. The sweeping vista of the Atlantic Ocean and the coastal land inspire a sense fo the wide open expanse of sea before the sailing ship, and the tight cloistered boundaries of the ship in comparison. Set under an evocative moody sky, the brushwork is inspired by Impressionism, yet unique in flow with its careful attention to scale and perspective, skills important to the architect and artist Benson. Multifaceted, he made the original frame as well to complete it.
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