Book Review: The Maritime Paintings of Montague Dawson
For my last post of 2006: I was given as a Christmas present the book
The Maritime Paintings of Montague Dawson
by Ron Ranson
and appreciated it so much that I would write a quick review of this wonderful collection of the works of a master.
As it says on the back cover, "Montague Dawson is considered by many to be the supreme maritime artist of the twentieth century." Well, I don't claim to be a great expert on art but I share that opinion.
This paperback version, published in 2004, updates a hardcover edition first released in 1993. It contains an introduction which describes Dawson's life, work and painting style, and then a collection of his paintings and sketches, including 57 colour reproductions, 21 monochrone ones and photographs, and 14 sketches. Most of these have some explanatory text attached describing the ships in the pictures, the historical scenes portrayed, or how Dawson came to paint them.
Several of the photographs show the artist with some of his most famous works and with people associated with the ships in them, including Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten and Sir Francis Chichester. The book concludes with a list stating which of Dawson's paintings had been reproduced (useful but very disappointing as some of the pictures of which I would most like to buy a print do not ever appear to have been published in that form.)
Rather than concentrate on the best known of Dawson's paintings, Ranson has included many which are equally brilliant but not as famous. Many of these deserve to reach a wider audience.
I have appreciated Dawson's paintings for many years, but I didn't know anything about the man who painted them until I read this book: I value it almost as much for what it told me about this remarkable artist as for the beautiful pictures it contains. At one time he was said to be the second best remunerated artist in the world (after Picasso) and the pictures in thes book show you why.
Ron Ranson's book is an absolute must for anyone who collects or enjoys pictures of ships and the sea: it will appeal to many others who enjoy looking at beautiful things.
If you enjoy this book, another work that you might appreciate is "The Marine Paintings of Geoff Hunt" and vice versa. However, I cannot pretend that the two books are on quite the same level. Hunt is brilliant: Montague Dawson was the master.