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Winslow Homer’s wonderful drawings of fishermen

Winslow Homer (pictured above at the age of 44) is best known for his marine oil paintings. His iconic The Fog Warning and Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) have assured him a place in the pantheon of the all-time greats of American art. However, Homer's artistic gift is no...

The way of the sea in Japanese woodblock prints

In his classic 1906 essay, The Book of Tea, Japanese scholar Kakuzo Okakura spoke of the philosophy of tea as “moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe”. This sense of proportion — the notion of man as being a mere part of the...

Promoting marine art: a blogger’s confession

In October of 2018 I announced Marine Café Blog's shift in focus. Instead of the mundane issues that bedevil the maritime industry, I would write about marine art and other topics ignored by the shipping press, including sea-related photography and literature. For...

Six paintings of shipwrecks that will blow your mind

Shipwreck paintings captivate us for the same reason that tragedy as a form of drama enthralled the ancient Greeks: they arouse pity and fear. The following artworks are some of the best on the subject. Intense and moving like the plays of Sophocles, they are a...

The world of fishermen: great 19th century paintings

The slogan-loving officials of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) should exorcise the term “invisible seafarers”. The phrase was coined by some second-rate copywriter to add drama to the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ celebration in 2013. It sounds contrived, a...

Sunrise at sea: six glorious paintings you will love

It is January, so I thought I would share some paintings which depict sunrise at sea. The first month of the year derives its name from the Latin word for door, ianua, and is often associated with the Roman god Janus, who presided over doors and beginnings. I hope the...

When the sea and consumer culture intersect

“The sea did what it liked,” wrote Charles Dickens in his 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, “and what it liked was destruction. It thundered at the town, and thundered at the cliffs, and brought the coast down, madly.” Such stunning prose is testimony, not...

10 incredible old paintings of lighthouses

“A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem, The Lighthouse. There is something magical about lighthouses that has fascinated writers and artists alike. Just visit the website of Fine Art America. At last count, this...

Conversation with a cat on marine art and culture

Readers of Marine Café Blog should be familiar by now with Frankie. He's one smart cat. I used to call him "the Philosopher Cat". However, he requested that I change the appellation to "Sage Cat", since, according to him, a philosopher is not necessarily wise. Frankie...

Seven marvellous poems of the sea

In the profit-crazed world of shipping, who cares about poems of the sea? Not many for sure. Poetry serves no practical purpose, and it won't fill one's pockets. But, as English writer Robert Graves said in his 1963 lecture at the London School of Economics, “If...

Going gaga over old maritime photos

The past is never dead. It's not even past. ~ William Faulkner (from 'Requiem for a Nun')   Of late I have been enamoured with maritime photos dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is not only the long gone social milieu they depict that fascinates...

Fisherfolk in timeless century-old photos

There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea. ~ Kahlil Gibran (from ‘Sand and Foam’) The sea is perilous and unforgiving. Yet, fisherfolk from generation to generation wrestle with its power to earn a living and feed humanity....