On the great and sometimes crazy stage we call shipping, few players are more interesting than the old salts, the lobos de mar—men who cut their teeth on boats and know, as did Polish-British novelist and sea captain Joseph Conrad, that “there is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.” The following six iconic paintings shine the spotlight on these hardy souls.


The Old Sea Dog, watercolour, 1888
Henry Scott Tuke, English painter and photographer (1858–1929)

Portrait of Vallier (The Sailor), oil on canvas, 1906
Paul Cézanne, French Post-Impressionist painter (1839–1906)

Old Salt, oil on canvas, 1909
George Benjamin Luks, American realist painter (1867–1933)

Le gondolier de Venise, oil on canvas 1970
Akira Tanaka, Japanese painter (1918-1982)

El capitán mercante (The merchant captain), oil on canvas, 1934
José Gutiérrez-Solana, Spanish painter and engraver (1886-1945)

Clipper Ship Captain, oil on canvas, 1921
Charles Webster Hawthorne, American painter (1872–1930)

I have known a number of old salts and admired them for their skills, their courage and fortitude, and their tales of the sea. Some, like so many others of their tribe, have departed. Thankfully, there are works of art to remember them by and they live on. ~Barista Uno


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