Montague J Dawson
(1890 or 95 - 1973)
Montague J. Dawson was active/lived in England. Montague Dawson is known for marine painting-sailing ships, ocean views.
Montague J. Dawson
Biography from the Archives of askART
Sea painter, Montague Dawson was born in Chiswick, England in 1890, the
son of Charles Ernest Dawson and Florence Hope Dawson (nee Bithrey). His mother died in 1893, giving birth to her seventh child, also named Florence Hope. Dawson was the grandson of Henry
Dawson and nephew of Henry Alfred Dawson, both landscape and marine artists of note.
Biography from Odon Wagner Gallery
began drawing as a child, and completed his first painting, a
watercolor sunset, just after his fifth birthday. Dawson never
attended art school, but took every opportunity of looking at paintings
and absorbing the methods of the masters.
Early in his youth,
the family moved to Southampton Water where Dawson enjoyed fishing,
sailing, and watching the great ships of the world anchoring in the
Around 1910 Dawson joined a commercial art studio
where he worked on posters and developed his skill of
illustration. C. Napier Hemy RA, who lived at Falmouth, had a
great influence on Dawson's career as an artist. Dawson used to
visit him as a young naval officer during the Great War.
that," Dawson recalled, "there was never any question of my doing
anything else apart from paint." Indeed, he was always able to live on
money earned from his pictures; at the age of eight he sold one for two
shillings and sixpence. "I thought I was made," he said.
joined the Royal Navy with the onset of the First World War and
continued to paint. He became a regular contributor to the Sphere
magazine with pictures and reconstructions of the war at sea. In
1918 when the German fleet surrendered, a whole issue of the periodical
was devoted to his portrayal of that historic event.
the war he became a professional painter and illustrator and began to
exhibit at the Royal Academy, although in latter years he contributed
less frequently. His reputation grew steadily so that by the 1930's he
was already firmly established among the leading marine painters of the
day, with a steady output and increasingly important commissions.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, presented his painting of the Royal
English Yacht Blue Bottle to the Duke of Edinburgh. American Presidential Collections have contained examples of Dawson's work.
method of working was to make a preliminary study of his subject on
oils, based on careful research, before beginning the larger
version. His knowledge of the sea and ships, and his dedication
to technical accuracy, combined to give him complete assurance that his
work was as close to a truthful representation as he could make
it. When he painted, he identified himself completely with the
event. "You really are there", he said. " You can hear the sea."
As he saw it, accuracy in seascape or landscape painting had little to
do with photographic exactness. "But if the memory of how it looks is
clear, that is what the painter has put down."
researched carefully for a painting and never knowingly left an
inaccuracy uncorrected even for the sake of artistic effect. The
rigging, for example, is painted with minutest care, not merely in
physical detail, but also in the relative tension of the ropes and
intricate shadows and patterns. He would often work quickly on a
picture, completing in one session a work, which up until that point
might have occupied many weeks. To him, marine painting combined
the freedom of landscape painting with the disciplines of portraiture;
the elements may be imaginatively painted but the ship must be a
likeness both in detail and in character. "You must be quite
certain that she is sailing with the wind in the proper quarter - if
she is on port tack, you must make sure the sails are filled from the
His subjects ranged from recording the Battle of
Trafalgar, moments from American War of Independence, the return of the
CUTTY SARK, and very often the races between the tea clippers returning
to London from China.
Quester Gallery, www.questergallery.com
additional information and corrections courtesy of Jeanette Conacher, grand niece of the artist.
One of the most commercially successful painters of the last century,
Montague Dawson, born in Chiswick, West London is acknowledged as a
supreme painter of the sea, sailing ships and the deep ocean.
Biography from Vallejo Gallery LLC
His father and grandfather were both marine painters, and this
maritime background was reinforced when, early in his life, his family
moved to Smugglers House on Southampton Water, on England's south
coast. Dawson never went to art school but, around 1910, he
joined a commercial art studio in London, working on posters and
Joining the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the
First World War, Dawson met Charles Napier Hemy who was to have a great
influence on the young man's art.
Dawson had supplied illustrations to the Sphere
magazine during the First World War and after the war set up as a
painter and illustrator. He concentrated on historical subjects
and sailing ships, usually under full sail on the deep ocean. He
achieved great commercial success starting in the 1920's, showing at
the Royal Academy from 1916 to 1936 and regularly at the Royal Society
of Marine Artists, of which he was a member.
Dawson moved to
Milford-on-sea in Hampshire in the 1930's. In the Second World
War, he illustrated events of the war for the Sphere and afterwards continued a painting career that was financially one of the most successful of the 20th century.
He died in Sussex in 1973.
Montague Dawson is widely considered the best known sea painter of the 20th century, and one of the most skilled craftsman in the direct line of English marine artists. He is noted for his unerringly beautiful ships, the weight and surging power of his waves and the scudding grace of his skies. In a painting by Dawson, the elements and the ships are one, united in a harmony of motion and color which immediately rings true.
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Dawson was born in Chiswick, England, the son of an enthusiastic Thames yachtsman and grandson of noted English landscape painter Henry Dawson. Early in his life the Dawson family moved to Southampton where he spent his time fishing, sailing and watching the great ships of the world anchoring in the harbor. As a young naval officer during WWI, he met and was greatly influenced by English artist C. Napier Hemy and would spend the remainder of his life as a professional painter and illustrator.
Today works by Montague Dawson grace the private collections of royalty and presidents as well as important museums worldwide. His reputation as "the king of the clipper ship artists" has penetrated into every part of the civilized world. He was a master of his genre, the like of which we may never see again.
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