The Hull Whalers, Isabella & Swan in Arctic Waters

by John Steven Dews


DIMENSIONS: 20.1 x 29.9 inches (51 x 76 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘J Steven Dews’ (lower left)
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas


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    Catalogue No: 6831 Categories: , Tags: , ,

    Isabella was launched in Kingston upon Hull in 1813. She initially sailed as a transport, and then as a merchantman trading with Canada. In 1817 the British Admiralty hired her as one of two vessels that would go on an expedition to search for a Northwest Passage. The expedition was unsuccessful. In 1820 she underwent two maritime mishaps, only one of which was substantive. From 1824 until she wrecked in the ice in June 1835 she was a whaler in the northern whale fishery

    HMS Swan was launched on 21 November 1767 at Plymouth as the lead ship of the 24 ships in the 14-gun Swan-class of ship-sloops built in the 1760s and 1770s. She served during the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolutionary War. She bore the name HMS Explosion between 1779 and 1783; at the time she was classed as a fireship. She was laid up in 1801 and finally sold in 1814. Swan then became a whaler in the northern whale fishery, sailing out of Kingston-on-Hull. She also made one voyage to the southern whale fishery (1819–1821) and one merchant voyage to Brazil and Hamburg, before returning to the northern whale fishery. She was broken up circa 1841.

    Private collection, United Kingdom

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    John Steven Dews is the most highly regarded maritime artist of the present day.

    Painted in the realist style, Dews’ ability to capture the movement of the ocean is fully realised in this beautiful painting. The contrasting of the crisp white of the sails against the deep blue water reflects Dews’ attention to detail.

    The artist was born near Hull, Yorkshire in 1949, and his connection with the sea began from an early age, when he inherited a love for the ocean from his Grandfather, who was an Assistant Harbour Master. The boy’s ability for painting ships was first recognised when he was five, and his picture was displayed in the school hall. His late teens however, were less promising; he failed his art A Level and then dropped out of a Fine Arts Degree after only a few weeks, because he disagreed with the way it was taught.

    However, he went on to build a spectacular body of work, ready for his first exhibition in 1976, where nearly every painting was sold and his stratospheric rise to success began. The following year he held an Exhibition in San Francisco which also sold out to great critical acclaim, and since then, Dews has continued exhibiting regularly at leading galleries in London and around the world. Validation of his pre-eminence came in the Sotheby’s sale of Maritime Art in London on April 28th 1999, where his original, entitled ‘Off Cowes’, sold for a phenomenal price for a living marine artist.

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