This view by Robert Salmon shows diverse maritime activity on the narrow waterway known as The Kyles of Bute, in the Firth of Clyde. On the central horizon rises the peak on Bute Island above Black (Farland) Point, identifying the popular cruising area and race course for the Clyde Yacht Club. Also known as Argyll’s Secret Coast, the area was extremely popular with most cruising members of the prestigious Royal Yacht Clubs.
Although the scene shows little yachting activity, the composition is filled with myriad vessels engaged in their daily toil and with Salmon's trademark fine detail throughout. In the foreground, four men tend to stowing gear aboard a small fishing smack after a day on the water. On shore, a group of anglers are cast fishing beneath the stern of a merchant ship hauled out for repairs and maintenance. In the central mid-ground, the bow of a local fishing vessel protrudes from behind the quay. The right of the composition shows a squadron of three naval warships on different points of sail, giving a perspective of bow, stern and profile views.
Robert Salmon is widely regarded as the best known painter to emerge from the Northern English Channel. He grew up in Northwest Britain near the River Clyde, where he began painting maritime subjects at an early age. In 1828 Salmon immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where he would cement his international reputation. Salmon’s paintings are at once visually appealing and historically accurate. Like many of his best works this scene features a luminous sky and a scene full of excellent narrative details. His works are rich repositories of wonderful scenery, shipping interest and developing maritime technology, making them extremely popular with collectors world-wide.
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