MONTAGUE DAWSON | The White Barque under Full Sail

MONTAGUE DAWSON | The White Barque under Full Sail


24" x 36" / 61cms x 91cms
Oil on canvas


Dawson’s work depicts a late 19th or early 20th century barque running at away from the wind in the open sea. The barque was possibly the most enduring type of sailing ship, popular from the 18th century well into the period of iron and steel hulled vessels (of the type depicted here). It is often forgotten that sails were still widely used on metal ships well into the Industrial era, and Dawson’s work captures this juxtaposition of old and new, with clean sails matched by the red oxidation on the iron bow, particularly noticeable on a ship painted a rare (and perhaps impractical!) white.


Defined by its combination of square rigged and fore-and-aft rigged sails, the Barque struck a balance between the power of the former and the ease of operation of the latter, while also being able to sail much closer to the wind. Requiring a much smaller crew to operate than fully rigged ships, the barque became ubiquitous as a merchant vessel. Dawson illustrates the versatility of the vessel as it runs from the wind with a sailing array similar to that found on square- rigged ships. The barque could operate both as a manoeuvrable coastal vessel or, as Dawson has depicted it, a stable presence on an open ocean swell.

  • One of the greatest marine artists of all time, Montague Dawson was drawn to the lure of the open sea and was enchanted by the romantic history and the graceful design of the old sleek clipper ships. During his time as a young naval officer in the First World War, Dawson combined his passion with his natural talent for drawing, and would spend the remainder of his life as a professional painter and illustrator. Dawson enjoyed painting magnificent clipper ships in battle scenes, in races and occasionally silhouetted alone against the horizon, almost as if he was painting a portrait of an old friend. He began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1917, was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1936 and later became a founder member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. Dawson enjoyed the patronage of many influential figures of his day including President Lyndon B. Johnson and the British Royal Family.
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