Saturday, March 7, 2009

Benson's Dhows

American marine artist John Prentiss Benson (1865-1947), younger brother of the renowned American Impressionist painter Frank Benson, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, lived later in Kittery, Maine, and perhaps naturally spent most of his creative efforts documenting the boats and ships of his home waters and, by extension, the western tradition. A lovely new book from Baker Marine Publications, John Prentiss Benson: American Marine Artist, includes more than one hundred color plates of the artist's work, and I recommend a look to anyone with a general interest in marine art in general, or the western boat/ship tradition.

Untitled -- Lateen Rigged Dhows (ca. 1940), oil on board, John Prentiss Benson

For our purposes, the book includes just one painting of an "indigenous" boat, which I'm reproducing here with permission of co-author and Benson descendant Nick Baker. Although the non-western subject matter isn't typical Benson, the style is very much so: beautifully rendered water and sky in a somewhat Impressionistic style, combined with convincingly rendered boats in a superbly well-balanced composition.

I expect this book will introduce the not-so-very-well-known artist to a larger audience. He deserves it. For more on the artist and his work, see the authors' website.

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