There is nothing beautiful about war. It is savage and nasty. For some reason, however, art depicting naval battles has a strong power to attract viewers. The chaotic scenes of smoke and fire as ships and men try to destroy each other are certainly dramatic. Some may even think them beautiful.
The charm of steamboats in century-old postcards
Their whistles have long fallen silent. The smokes from their funnels are no more. Yet, the charm of steamboats that inspired such wonderful songs as Steamboat Bill and Lazy ‘Sippi Steamer lives on in old postcards.
US maritime heritage embedded in state seals
The United States ranked no. 11 in the 2022 UNCTAD table of countries with the largest fleets in terms of carrying capacity (deadweight tonnes). It was way below the top three fleet owners — Greece, China and Japan. Nonetheless, Americans can take pride in having an enviable maritime heritage and preserving and keeping it alive in their art, music and literature. That legacy is even embedded in the official seals of 13 states.
The sailor’s life: Four notable memoirs of old salts
The following memoirs are recommended reading for anyone who loves nautical books. The narratives are engaging, and they open a window to the maritime past. To present-day readers, they also serve as reminders of the dangers and hardships as well as the joys and fulfillments of the seafaring life.
The difference between bay and harbour illustrated with art
Bay or harbour? These two terms can be a source of confusion for writers and even for some mariners. Official names help to some extent — e.g., “New York Harbor” and “Manila Bay”. But one may well ask: what is the crucial difference between the two given that ships regularly come in and out of both places?
A May Day salute to maritime workers
Forget the slogans and speeches. They tend to be hollow and even insincere, especially if they come from bureaucrats. On May Day (International Workers’ Day, 1st of May), let’s have some art to honour the maritime workers whose daily struggles and honest toil often go unnoticed.
Eye-catching steamboat models from the 19th century
19th-century models of steamboats are such a delight to look at. They may not have the elegant craftsmanship of present-day models. Some may not have been built to scale. Yet, they have a special charm that makes one feel that their makers loved boats and loved their art.
Some Titanic quotes never to be forgotten
Incredibly plenty has been written about the sinking of the Titanic on 15th April 1912. So, rather than repeating the facts that most of the world already knows, I am sharing the following quotes from some of the people who were directly involved. One hundred and eleven years after the disaster, the words still reverberate.
‘Meditation by the Sea’: Thoughts on a mindful painting
It may not be dramatic like J.M.W. Turner’s famous Fighting Temeraire, but ‘Meditation by the Sea’ is my favourite marine painting. As a writer and observer of the shipping world, I can identify with this work. I even see myself in it.
Spotlight on boatswains in vintage photography and art
The important role played by the boatswain (often called “bosun”) cannot be gainsaid. He is the senior crewman of the ship’s deck department — the major-domo, as it were, in charge of planning, scheduling, and assigning work to be carried out by the other deckhands.
A touch of love: The marine drawings of Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh left behind more than 1,100 drawings when he died at age 37 on 29 July 1890. Sadly, but not surprisingly, they have been eclipsed by the splendid colours and well-deserved fame of his ‘The Starry Night’ and other oil paintings.
Drawing was a large part of Van Gogh’s artistic life. He put his heart into it, sometimes at great emotional cost. To give his drawings the attention they deserve is to do justice to the man and his legacy.
Marine art by 10 painters who met an untimely end
“He whom the gods love dies young,” wrote the Greek dramatist Menander (342/41–291 BC). Maybe so, but the death of a gifted artist at a relatively young age is still tragic. Who knows what greater things that individual might have accomplished had he or she lived longer?