Over the Crest by Montague Dawson
Over the Crest by Montague Dawson Over the Crest by Montague Dawson Over the Crest by Montague Dawson Over the Crest by Montague Dawson Over the Crest by Montague Dawson
Over the Crest by Montague Dawson

Over the Crest by Montague Dawson

  • Montague Dawson presents a dynamic maritime scene in this monumental oil on canvas
  • He brilliant captures the famed clipper ship Lightning at full sail
  • The dynamism of the work is enhanced by Dawson's masterful composition
  • Today, Dawson is regarded as the premier marine painter of the 20th century
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Item No. 30-9034
$398,500
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Montague Dawson
1895-1973 | British

Over the Crest: The Lightning

Signed “Montague Dawson” (lower left)
Oil on canvas

Montague Dawson is considered the master of maritime painting, celebrated for his highly detailed compositions of sailed ships at sea. By 1935, he was dubbed “the King of the Clipper Ship School,” and his reputation as a ship-marine painter spread internationally. Over the Crest: The Lightning is a monumental example of his very best output. Capturing the famed clipper ship Lightning, the work makes clear Dawson's remarkable talent for translating the dynamic movement and energy of ships at sea onto canvas.

Dawson devoted most of his career to painting 19th-century clipper ships like the Lightning that swiftly carried passengers and cargo across the world's oceans. Unlike any other marine painter, Dawson celebrated the speed and grace of these historic ships as they moved through the water. The powerful drama of the clipper ship at sail is perfectly realized in the present work, enhanced by Dawson's mastery over composition. Depicted at full sail, Lightning appears to rise up on the waves as it glides effortlessly through the water.

The ship was among the last of its kind to ever be built in the United States. Ordered in 1853 for the Australia trade, she was powerfully constructed in order to withstand the heavy seas and storms of the Australia run. Lightning was a record setter from the first, making the passage from New York to Liverpool in just 13 days, and from Liverpool to Melbourne in a short 65 days. Unfortunately, the ship's career was a short one - she caught fire in 1869 after she was already loaded with bales of wool, wine and tallow, making it impossible for her crew to put out the fire. The area where the clipper sank is known to this day as the "Lightning Shoals."

The son of a keen yachtsman and grandson of marine painter Henry Dawson, Montague Dawson spent much of his childhood on the Southampton Water, where he was able to indulge his interest in the study of ships. Naturally gifted at drawing and painting, the self-taught Dawson became a member of an art studio group in Bedford Row, London. By the age of 15, he was working on posters and illustrations to earn a living. For a brief period around 1910, Dawson worked for a commercial art studio in London, but with the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Royal Navy. Dawson was present at the final surrender of the German Grand Fleet, and many of his illustrations depicting the event were published in The Sphere.

After the War, Dawson established himself as a professional marine artist, concentrating on historical subjects and portraits of deep-water sailing ships. During the Second World War, he was employed as a war artist and again worked for The Sphere. Dawson exhibited regularly at the Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Royal Academy from 1917 to 1936. By the 1930s, he was considered the greatest living marine painter. His patrons included two American Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as the British Royal Family.

Canvas: 40" high x 50" wide
Frame: 49" high x 59" wide

Provenance:
Frost & Reed, London
Andrew Moss
Frost & Reed, London, 1999
Private collection, United Kingdom
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, 2019
specifications
Artist: Dawson, Montague
Period: 1919-Present
Origin:England
Subject:Marine
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