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Battles at sea: 12 artworks that pack a punch

by | Nov 3, 2020 | Maritime Art, Culture and History

Nobody delights in war except warmongers. War is synonymous with death. It is horrifyingly ugly. Samuel Butler, the 17th-century Engish satirical poet, called it “the artificial plague of man”. Oddly enough, however, there is something beautiful about battles at sea, especially those involving frigates and other sailing ships built for warfare. The following works of art are some of the best I have seen on the subject. They depict actual battles that took place and are all notable for their visual and emotional impact.

Battle of Patras, 1772 (1778)
Jacob Philipp Hackert (German, 1737–1807)
Peterhof Museum, Russia, via Wikimedia Commons

Brig “Mercury” Attacked by Two Turkish Ships (1892)
Ivan Aivazovsky (Russian, 1817–1900)
Wikimedia Commons

A Naval Encounter between Dutch and Spanish Warships (c. 1618/1620)
Cornelis Verbeeck (Dutch, 1590/1591–1637)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

The Battle of Trafalgar (c. 1841)
John Christian Schetky (British, 1778–1874)
Yale Center for British Art

Battle of the Combined Venetian and Dutch Fleets against the Turks in the Bay of Foya, 1649 (1656)
Abraham Beerstraaten (Dutch, 1643–1670s)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Zeeslag (naval battle) (1617–1660)
Matthieu van Plattenberg (Flemish, 1607–1660)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Naval Battle of Dannoura in the Reign of Antoku, the 80th Emperor (1880)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Japanese Fleet Sinks Chinese Warships in the Battle of the Yellow Sea (1894)
Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japanese, 1847–1915)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Slag bij Terheide (Battle of Terheide), 10 August 1653 (1653–1666)
Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten (Dutch, 1622–1666)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Gevecht tijdens de zeeslag bij Kijkduin (Encounter during the Battle of Kijkduin) (c. 1675)
Willem van de Velde (II) (Dutch, 1633–1707)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Battle of Gibraltar in 1607 (c. 1621)
Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen (Dutch, c. 1576–1633)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Combat Naval En Vue Des Îles De Loz, 7 Février 1813 (Naval Battle for the Islands of Loz, 7 February 1813) (1st Quarter 19th century)
Louis-Philippe Crépin (French, 1772–1851)
WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

~ Barista Uno

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