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Gardner is widely considered to be the leading British maritime painter of the 20th century. Entirely self-taught, he became a master of his art with an unmatched skill for conveying the colour, luminosity and atmosphere of the maritime setting.

Gardner’s own life and upbringing was closely linked to the sea: his father was the Chief Engineer of the Clyde Trust and the Port of Glasgow, and he himself joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a midshipman in 1934. During World War II, he served with the Royal Navy on armed trawlers and destroyers in the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea. He was mentioned in dispatches for distinguished service and left in 1948 with the rank of Commander.

In 1988 the Royal Society of Marine Artists elected Gardner as their honorary vice-president for life. In 2005, as part of celebration of the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar an exhibition of his work featuring a painting of every ship in which Nelson served, was presented in London. His work is included in several marine art texts and held in public collections including the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

His total mastery of both subject and the technique of marine painting places Gardner at the very top of 20th Century painters.


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