The Most Remarkable Paintings of Ships at Sea


For more than a thousand years, ships of all shapes and sizes have sailed the seas. They have become the lifeblood, an inseparable part of the economies of many countries, including Great Britain, and Portugal.

Keeping in mind the importance of ships to mankind and the domination of the world’s seas by various nations, artists over the years have tried their hands on creating remarkable paintings of Ships at Sea. Marine arts are an extremely important genre in the art world, and also one of the most sought-after paintings.

Marine paintings feature the humongous vessels and depict their legendary voyages of them on the high seas. In today’s article, we will see the 5 most beautiful ship paintings that have left admirers speechless.

The Fighting Téméraire – Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner, who painted many seascapes, may be the most famous seascape artist of any age. Considering his works, at least two or three artworks of his would have made it to the list. But since we are restricted in keeping just one artwork from an artist, the above-presented creation titled “The Fighting Téméraire” falls on this list.

This painting of the HMS Temeraire, a 98-gun second-rate warship of the Royal Navy remembered for its influential role in the Battle of Trafalgar. The picture characterizes the final journey of the battleship to a London shipyard. In the painting, the enormous vessel appears like a ghost being towed by a smaller steam-powered tugboat.

The masterpiece is often symbolized as the end of an era, the end of heroic power, and the advent of the Industrial revolution. It is also considered to be one of the artist’s personal favourites which he refused to sell during his lifetime.

The Green Wave – Claude Monet

Claude Monet is recognized and celebrated as one of the most famous impressionist artists. Most of his works are simply dark land sceneries instead of the paintings of ships at sea. However, as an exception, Monet’s “The Green Wave” painted in 1875 is one of the most ship paintings ever created.

The painting features Monet’s trademarked Impressionist style and depicts a boat in the middle of a stormy ocean. The contrasting colours of the ocean and the clear blue sky truly help to highlight the boat in the foreground.

Monet’s brushstrokes vastly differ when the artist focuses on the sky and the boats. They are crafted with short, choppy strokes that can convey a great deal of detail. The painting is currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama, Édouard Manet

Painted by Edouard Manet, The Battle of Kearsarge and Alabama is the artist’s first-ever maritime painting. This churning piece of seascape depicts the naval engagement between the Union and the Confederacy that took place on the coast of France.

Fought during the American Civil War, the battle took place between the USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama. While the Union was victorious in the war, the latter unfortunately sank with soldiers inside (the smoking ship in the painting).

The best part about the painting is that Manet had created this masterpiece of oil painting based solely on the media descriptions of the naval attack. The event on which the painting is based took place in June 1864, and the painting itself was put on display for the first time in July 1864, which demonstrates Manet’s quick response to a sensational and recent event.

Becalmed Off Halfway Rock – Fitz Hugh Lane

Most marine paintings feature vessels that are either engaged in raging battles or are stuck in a stormy ocean. On the contrary, few paintings depict the calm and serene beauty of the coastal area, and Fitz Hugh Lane’s Becalmed Off Halfway Rock is one of them.

This particular masterpiece by Lane depicts an absolute beauty scene of the ocean that very few people from the outside world get to witness. The painting represents the ocean in its true self, boundless where one can get lost easily.

Besides, this masterpiece actually depicts ships anchored down next to Halfway Rock, which is a famous sea marker located approximately halfway between Boston and Cape Ann. The marker was a very popular stopping point for vessels to make a quick stop and carry out their maritime business.

The Home Fleet Saluting the State Barge – Jan Van de Cappelle

Jan Van de Cappelle’s “The Home Fleet Saluting the State Barge,” is one of the most prominent ship paintings of all time. Thanks to the artist’s great knowledge about color palette and techniques; this particular masterpiece amazingly depicts pure ocean water’s ability to mirror the objects above its surface.

This art piece was created by Cappelle in 1650, a period in which maritime travel was at the absolute peak of his career. It was the time when sea voyages were responsible for reshaping the world, both directly and indirectly. Travellers would leave the land, travel across the Atlantic to discover new opportunities and a completely new world.

“The Home Fleet Saluting the State Barge ” features a number of ships gathered in a port to salute a prominent vessel, in the middle of the picture, as it is ready to sail on its voyage. The best part about this masterpiece has to be the way Cappelle has mirror-image everything that is on the surface of the ocean – every minute detail.

The Bottom Line

Marine paintings are one of the most sought-after painting genres in art history. They often come with a hefty price tag, which sometimes is unaffordable to art lovers. But, with 1st Art Gallery by your side, you can have a reproduction of these paintings made at great prices, and of course, they would look exactly like the original.


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