Catalog: Sailor-Painter

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Sailor-Painter: The Uncommon Life of Charles Robert Patterson
by Robert Lloyd Webb

Hardcover, 448 pages, 196 illustrations


In 1892, at age 13 Charles Robert Patterson shoved off to sea.  Sailing to Calcutta in a British four-masted bark
 the young Briton began a proverbial seven years of wandering, during which time he crossed every major ocean and rounded both Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope.
After realizing that there would be no future under sail, he "swallowed the anchor" in 1899, married a young Canadian landswoman, and sired a daughter while he began a second career as a newspaper illustrator and commercial artist.  Opportunity then lured him ever farther eastward, away from his new family: to Chicago, Philadelphia, and finally New York, where his mature paintings at last found a ready market during the "ship-lovers" movement of the 1920s.

The ship-lovers hoped to save everything about the vanishing era of merchant sail, and Charles Robert Patterson was uniquely capable of painting those beautiful vessels as they once appeared at sea.  He depicted ships from every vantage: rolling along under full sail, becalmed, at anchor in harbor, and bow-on.  He could paint them to-windward or to-leeward with all the detail his memories and his dockside sketch pad recalled.
His accurate, inspiring canvases depicted real ships in real weather conditions, and they found a ready audience in prestigious galleries in New York and Boston.  He painted for important American institutions, businesses, and individuals; among them  the U.S. Naval Academy, W.R. Grace & Company, J. P. Morgan, Jr., and Vincent Astor.  By mixing academic art training with years of seafaring, he became the "Sailor-Painter."  On more than 400 canvases he reinvigorated the art of nautical painting.  His work, now sought-after by art and maritime museums, sailors, and collectors has inspired each generation of maritime artists who has followed in his wake.

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