Montague Dawson is widely considered the leading Marine artist of the Twentieth Century. Painting the sea was in Montague Dawson’s heritage – his grandfather being marine painter Henry Dawson (1811-1878). His father was also a keen yachtsman, and much of his childhood was spent on Southampton Water where he watched, sailed and studied ships. Around 1910, Dawson decided to work at a commercial art studio in London, but when the First World War broke out he joined the Royal Navy. Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917), a fellow fighter he met in Falmouth, considerably influenced Dawson’s work. Dawson was present at the final surrender of the German Grand Fleet and many of his illustrations depicting the event were published in the newspaper, ‘The Sphere’.

After the War, Montague Dawson established himself as a professional marine artist. Stylistically he worked with great attention to detail and accuracy, concentrating on historical subjects and portraits of deep-water sailing ships. The ships are often sailing at a stiff breeze or on high seas, giving Dawson the opportunity to display his bravura with looser, longer brushstrokes.