Compositions featuring a shipboard perspective are rare within Montague Dawson's prolific body of work, and "Ships That Pass" offers dynamic insight into this distinctive yet fascinating genre of his career. This is one of Dawson's larger canvases depicting two windjammers passing in opposite directions. The perspective is an onboard view from the foreground vessel's deck with the oncoming ship nicely posed at the top of a rising sea. Two seamen are shown coiling down lines at the main shrouds of the deck view.
Always evocatively dramatic, Dawson's stirring romanticism in portraying the world of sailing ships catapulted him to world-wide fame and popularity in the mid-twentieth century. His works are probably the best known examples of the genre in the 20th century. Collected by royalty and American Presidents, Dawson's output defines a high point in the history of marine painting. This example is a strong composition typical of the artist's best endeavors. Using strong coloration to enhance this unique perspective, Montague Dawson offers the viewer a unique and enduring visual record of an encounter on the high seas during the great age of sail.
Likely an event inspired by the crowded sea lanes off America's West coast, this painting beautifully narrates a historically common occurrence as ocean commerce fed the growth of the new west beginning with the gold rush in California and steadily developing well into the 20th century.
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