• Tracking the history of maritime art and its display

      Hawkins, Natalie (2021-12)
      Depictions of nautical vessels can be found as far back as the beginning of image making itself. Nautical art would begin to find its central themes and mediums in Medieval Europe through ship maps and illuminated manuscripts. However, it was not until the 17th century that the modern concept of maritime art would truly emerge. This genre of painting would be developed by Dutch painters at the time. This would then spread to the art of the rest of Europe and eventually to the United States. The popularity of maritime art was deeply connected to its original imperial use. Some of the first strictly maritime artists were exclusively commissioned to work on voyages of exploration, mercantile ship portraits, and naval war scenes. This history was tracked extensively up until the late 20th century, though there has been little scholarly attention given to maritime art since the 1990’s. In order to understand the way maritime art may exist in the modern world, it is crucial to look at the way that modern museums display maritime paintings. In looking at maritime art from its imperial origins to the present day, one can also see the ways in which contemporary artists are using the genre to comment on modern, post-colonial issues.