Paintings by Robert Salmon are desirable to collectors the world over, due to the impressive amount of historic subject matter and detail presented through artistic compositions of the highest order. This striking view of a large Revenue Brig in full regalia on a British waterway is full of such notable detail that the ship jumps to life nearly two centuries after it was painted.
The strong central subject, the armed brig of the British Revenue Service, with her adorned crown of state on the ensign and main mast pennant, displays her identity on the fore mast, thanks to the scholarship of Author A.S. Davidson, who interpreted her three flag Marryat Code hoist: 571. This is asking the incoming merchant ship “Are You Healthy?”, in a reference to the well being of the crew on the returning merchant. A lugger of three masts sails before her watchful eyes, a humorous element Davidson implies Salmon intentionally added as a reference tot he smugglers based on the Isle of Man. It follows that Salmon, in his highly detailed manner, painted accurately what the day and ships appeared.
Salmon’s superb rendering of the white, cloud-filled sky with thin streaks pulling away from the billowy fullness, to the sharp rhythmic pattern of the pulsing tide, and the cool shadows amid the great light for depth add much to this period painting. His human portrayals, from the revenue men to the luggers crossing her path, complete it.
Provenance: Private English Collection; Richard Green Gallery, London;
Private Colorado Collection, a Member of the NYYC.
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