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 Robert Oliver Skemp  (1910 - 1984)

About: Robert Oliver Skemp
 

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Lived/Active: Connecticut      Known for: portrait, marine, illustrator

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Robert Oliver Skemp
from Auction House Records.
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Jennifer Skemp O'Grady, daughter of the artist:

Robert Oliver Skemp was born in 1910 the son of Olive Hess Skemp, a prominent rug designer and artist, and grew up with a love of the sea and the ships that sailed it.  A librarian aunt provided books with stories like Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues under the sea, and Mysterious Island with illustrations by artists like N.C. Wyeth, Meade Schaeffer and others.

At age 16 he enrolled in the Arts Student's League of New York to study with Thomas Hart Benton, George Bridgeman, and Frank V. DuMond.  Still a young man, he joined the merchant marines and went around the world on a cargo ship, traveling to Europe, the Middle East, India, Japan, China, Hawaii and South America.

He returned to study under Pruett Carter at the Grand Central Art School, and with George Luks in New York.  He tried for a berth on the Tusitalia, the last commercial sailing ship, but her voyage was canceled, and she never sailed again.

Mr. Skemp returned to France and Spain to paint and study further.  His life a mix of painting and sailing, he built an ocean racing ketch in Maine with a friend, and later raced in the Bermuda race.

He began working as an illustrator for such magazines as Colliers, Liberty, Saturday Evening Post and Sports Afield, earning 3 Gold Medals among other awards from the Art Directors Clubs of Chicago and New York, and served as a flag officer of the Columbia Yacht club in Chicago, before moving to Connecticut.

In Connecticut he turned to portrait painting, and began a career which
included portraits of notables such as J. Paul Getty; Admiral Richard E. Byrd; Admiral James Farley; Mayor Richard Lee of New Haven, CT; Luther B. Hodges, Secretary of Commerce; and General Douglas Mac Arthur.

Work for the Church of the Latter Day Saints included a number of portraits as well as 2 murals for the New York Worlds Fair, and the Tokyo Worlds Fair.

Mr. Skemp's marine paintings focused for the most part on the clipper ships of the first part of the 19th century, especially notable for accuracy about individual ships, their rigging, sails, weather and marine environment. He was a founding member of the American Society of Marine Arts.

Died 1984.

Collections: Pentagon; The Vatican, The U.S. Coast Guard; Kingdom of Qatar,
Governors mansion, Raleigh, N.C.; Princeton University; Yale University;
Cornell University, and Pace University, and many others.

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