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Boats paintings

5 min read
Boats paintings

The Metropolitan Museum has a wide variety of artworks depicting boats. These artworks come from all over the world and span many different time periods. Boats have long been an important part of human cultures, and have been used for transportation, trade, and warfare. The artworks in The Metropolitan Museum provide a glimpse into the different ways that boats have been depicted by cultures throughout history.


British, London 1775–1851 London / The Met

    Turner was seventy years old when Whalers debuted to mixed reviews at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1845.
    The painting's subject proved elusive, as the English novelist William Thackeray observed:"That is not a smear of purple you see yonder, but a beautiful whale, whose tail has just slapped a half-dozen whale-boats into perdition; and as for what you fancied to be a few zig-zag lines spattered on the canvas at hap-hazard, look! they turn out to be a ship with all her sails."
    Apparently Turner undertook the painting - which was returned to him - for the collector Elhanan Bicknell, who had made his fortune in the whale-oil business.

Fantastic Landscape

Italian, Venice 1712–1793 Venice / The Met

    This imaginary landscape, or capriccio, is one of three in The Met's collection from the castle of Colloredo di Monte Albano, near Udine.
    Their sizes and shapes seem to have been adjusted by Guardi in the course of painting or immediately thereafter, probably in order to be fit into decorative plaster surrounds.
    Guardi built these picturesque compositions from rocky outcroppings, slanting tree trunks, and classical ruins, which are populated by fishermen and their families.

View of the Seine

French, Paris 1859–1891 Paris / The Met

    The artist made about seventy oil studies on small wood panels, which he called croquetons.
    These boards were easily transported and held in the hand, making them ideal for painting outdoors.
    This is among the earliest of the studies that Seurat made along the Seine River on the outskirts of Paris.

The Island of San Michele, Venice

Italian, Venice 1712–1793 Venice / The Met

    Guardi's views of Venice differ from those of Canaletto in that they are less a detailed description of individual buildings than an attempt to convey the magic of the city, enveloped - as here - in a diaphanous, silvery light.
    This picture shows the cemetery island of San Michele with its early Renaissance church, designed by Mauro Codussi in 1469, at center.
   Flanking the church are the domed Cappella Emiliani and the Gothic bell tower on one side and the (former) Camaldolensian monastery on the other

The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking Southeast, with the Campo della Carità to the Right

Italian, Venice 1697–1768 Venice / The Met

    Today, one would be looking at the modern Accademia Bridge from this position on the canal.
    The bell tower in Campo della Carità, on the right, fell long ago, but the adjoining church and former convent, with a rebuilt entrance facade, now houses the Galleria dell'Accademia.
    Canaletto made many drawings on-site, which he used to construct views like this one in the studio.
    The painting belongs to a series of twenty views he probably painted for Joseph Smith ca.
   1674 - 1770, British consul in Venice from 1744 to

The Calm Sea

French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz / The Met

    This painting is called "The Beach at Étretat" by Gustave Courbet.
    The painting is unusual for Courbet's marine paintings of this period, dominated by dramatically crashing waves.
    The painting is tranquil with its immense sky towering over narrow bands of water and sand.

"Alexander is Lowered into the Sea", Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusrau Dihlavi

Indian, Patiyali, 1253–1325 Delhi / The Met

    The Khamsa of the Indian poet Amir Khusrau includes a section on the philosopher-king Alexander the Great, who in Khusrau's telling of his life led expeditions to China, Russia, and the Western Isles.
    In this copy of the Khamsa made for the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556 - 1605), Alexander is shown being lowered into the sea in a glass diving bell.
    While underwater, he will receive a visit from an angel who foretells his death.

Copenhagen Harbor by Moonlight

From 14th Century To 15th Century

From 14th Century To 15th Century

During the 14th and 15th centuries, artists in Europe began to break away from the traditional Gothic style. They began to experiment with new techniques and styles, resulting in a period of great creativity and innovation in the arts. Some of the most famous artworks from this period include the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and the sculptures of Donatello. Box with Romance Scenes     This coffret illustrated with scenes from Arthurian and other courtly literature of the M
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From 1819 To 1826

From 1819 To 1826

The 19th century was a time of great change in the world of art. Artists began to experiment with new styles and media, and the art world was forever changed as a result. Some of the most famous artists of the time include Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso. The Falls of Niagara     The painting is of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.     The painting is based on a vignette of the falls from a map of North America published by Henry S. Tanner in 1822. Heroic Landscape w
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From 1787 To 1800

From 1787 To 1800

The 18th century was a time of great change in the world of art. New styles and genres emerged, and artists began to experiment with new techniques and materials. The art of the 18th century reflected the changing times, and the growing interest in the natural world and the human form. Elizabeth Farren (born about 1759, died 1829), Later Countess of Derby     The Irish actress Elizabeth Farren made her London debut in 1777 and soon became one of the most popular comic performers of the day.  
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