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 Julian Oliver Davidson  (1853 - 1894)

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Lived/Active: New York/Maryland      Known for: multi-ship marine painting, illustration

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Julian Oliver Davidson
An example of work by Julian Oliver Davidson
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A specialist in naval illustration, Julian Davidson was extremely valuable to the editors of The Century magazine during the Civil War to depict naval action. He reconstructed his illustrations from eyewitness accounts and quick on-the-site sketches, and many of his works were reproduced in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War and Harper's Weekly.

He was born in Cumberland, Maryland and studied with Maurice de Haas, a marine painter. He regularly exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the Salmagundi Club. He had his studio at the Nyack Boat Club and was a champion-class sculler.

"The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000", by Walt Reed

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:

One of the nineteenth century’s premier naval artists, Julian Oliver Davidson was born in Cumberland, Maryland to a family of education and means.  As a child, Davidson made five trips to Cuba, sailing with his engineer father who was overseeing railroad construction in that country.  Thus began Davidson’s love for the ocean, a passion that would inform his personal and professional life thereafter.

At the age of seventeen, Davidson ran away to sea, crewing on ships that traveled to the Mediterranean and Orient. He returned home, laden with sketchbooks and paintings from his experiences, and, settling in New York, undertook instruction with the Dutch painter Mauritz F. H. de Haas in the legendary Tenth Street Studio Building.  There, he came into contact with Hudson River luminaries such as Winslow Homer, Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Stanford R. Gifford. The romantic sensibilities of the Hudson River school can be seen in the vigor and vitality of Davidson’s marine scenes and large history paintings, including a series of works documenting key naval engagements of the War of 1812.

Davidson’s facility with naval illustration proved highly marketable during the Civil War.  He was a regular illustrator for both The Century and Harper’s, providing detailed artistic accounts of naval operations and battles.  Later in his career, he found equal commercial demand for his depictions of sailing sports. A champion rower, Davidson lived on the Hudson River where he found ample subject matter for his brush.

A frequent exhibitor at the National Academy of Design and the Salmagundi Club, Davidson’s life was cut short by a sudden illness at the age of forty-one.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

Biography from VALLEJO GALLERY, LLC, Marine Art Specialists:
A marine artist, Julian O. Davidson is best known for his commissioned paintings of American naval engagements. He also authored and illustrated children's books, America's Cup races for magazines, and was a champion rower. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Nyack Rowing Association. His career shortened by a sudden illness, combined with the loss of some known works, makes original art by Davidson a rare commodity today.

Born to family of noticeable wealth and artistic inclinations, and after a military school education and a brief apprenticeship in his father's engineering firm, he struck out on his own at 17. He literally 'ran away to sea' as he would later call it. Joining the crew of the Pacific Mail steamship ARIZONA, bound for the Orient by way of the Mediterranean Sea, he was onboard when she became the first American vessel to travel the Suez Canal. Davidson filled sketch books with the varied scenes he observed on his world travels, which aided him in several future artistic ventures.

Back home in 1872 in New York, he became the first pupil of Mauritz F.H. de Haas. Under de Haas's tutelage, Davidson associated with Winslow Homer, Frederic Church, William Bradford, Albert Bierstadt and Sanford R. Gifford at the famous Tenth Street studio that served as the 19th Century heart of the New York art world. His artistic accomplishments include several large scale works, including a 20 x 7 foot painting of H.M.S. MACEDONAIN's capture by U.S.S. UNITED STATES that became part of the decor of New York's Plaza Hotel. But when working for himself, Davidson revisited his favorite subject, the beauty of ships under sail.

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Julian Davidson is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Civil War Art

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