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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prophets and Artists

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
View of Greenock, Scotland, 1816
Oil on canvas
66,6 x 112,3 cm
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
The Custom House at Greenock, Scotland 1828
Oil on wood
16 1/2 x 25 5/8 in. (41.9 x 65.1 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City


Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
The Ship "Favorite" Maneuvering Off Greenock, 1819
Oil on canvas
Overall: 76.2 x 128.3 cm (30 x 50 1/2 in.) framed: 96.5 x 149.9 x 9.8 cm (38 x 59 x 3 7/8 in.)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
A Frigate of the Baltic Fleet off Greenock 1819
Oil on canvas
Height: 59.06 cm (23.25 in.), Width: 94.62 cm (37.25 in.)
Private collection

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
The Custom House Quay, Greenock, Scotland1820
Oil on canvas
Height: 58.42 cm (23 in.), Width: 93.98 cm (37 in.)
Private collection


Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
Packet Ship UNITED STATES 1817
Oil on canvas
27 in. by 40 in.,
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts



Some artists do not achieve the recognnition they deserve in their own country. Often they have to achieve recognition in foreign lands

One such is the marine artist, Robert Salmon (1775-1845)

Details about his life are sketchy. For instance, we do not know exactly when he died.

He was born at Whitehaven in Cumbria, England. He was the son of a jeweller from London.At that time, Whitehaven was one of the four most important ports in England. He left for London and exhibited at The Royal Academy. Hw changed his name from Salomon to Salmon.

In 1806 he moved to Liverpool. Again he moved to another marine city, Greencok, in Scotland in 1811. He remained there until 1822.

In 1828 he left Europe for the United States of America, settling in Boston for 14 years.He had a studio at the end of the Marine Railway Wharf overlooking the harbour. It was here that Salmon achieved his greatest success and recognition.

He is widely considered the father of American Luminism with a style of painting that was to influence the likes of Fitz H. Lane, William Bradford and many other young New England artists of the nineteenth century.

In many of his paintings, he adopted the low horizon and clear, sparkling light effects typical of Dutch seascapes.

Salmon left America in 1842 and for many years was believed to have died soon after. However, it has come to light that he went to Italy on his return to Europe. A number of Italian views attributed to him have survived, the latest of which is dated 1845. The date of his death remains uncertain

The above paintings date from the period before his American residence.

After the Act of Union 1707, Greenock's facilities made it the main port on the West Coast of Scotland and it prospered due to trade with the Americas, importing sugar from the Caribbean.

The Greenock Custom House building was designed by William Burn in 1818 and considered by many to be the finest in Britain. It underwent refurbishment which was completed in 1989.

The "Tail of the Bank" anchorage was so called because further navigation eastward to Glasgow was impeded for large vessels by an extensive sandbank.
Note the early steam paddleships in some of the pictures. The West coast of Scotland was at the forefront of building such ships in the United Kingdom.