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Robert Salmon

(c. 1775—1848)


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(c. 1775–c. 1848/51).

Painter. Known primarily for marine and shore scenes, he had already reached middle age when he arrived in the United States. Nevertheless, he contributed influentially for about fourteen years to the art life of Boston, where he lived in a shanty near the shore. There he cultivated a mode of vision that fed development of luminism, as he variously documented the bustling commercial waterfront, recalled the coast of Great Britain, or appealed to poetic fancy. Salmon was born near Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria), on England's northwest coast. His earliest known works date to about 1800. Before departing in 1828 for the United States, he worked primarily in Liverpool and in Greenock, on the Clyde, west of Glasgow. In Boston he created stage sets and large panoramic canvases, yet many of his paintings are tiny, often on panel. He is believed to have returned permanently to England in later years, but the circumstances of his death are not known. Boston Harbor from Constitution Wharf (United States Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland, 1833) captures in meticulous detail sailing vessels, rowboats, and quayside activity at an early morning hour. As the sun rises above a hazy horizon, the glowing, Claudian sky and still, reflective water produce a transfixing mood. As in many of his works, Salmon's imported style, based on popular models in English and Dutch marine painting, seamlessly accommodates a local and recognizably American subject.

Subjects: Art.


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