Jones Sands Publishing, ISBN 094776433X £40
Ship paintings always demand a second glance and Davison’s book is the story of ship paintings by Ulster artists Semple, Weaver, McIlvenny & Johnston who have been largely forgotten. There is a chapter on more obscure painters who were active in the early 1900s. The book is beautifully and expensively produces but the paintings are magnificent. The whole genre of painters who painted ships especially for their captain, owner or crew is a remarkable phenomenon. The ship had to be accurately reproduced and the paint dry before the ship sailed. This was achieved with the utmost skill using a pre-prepared background usually local to the painter’s home port. There is a significant technical aspect to this book in the section on the ship’ flags and the nomenclature system. Portavogie Samuel Davison is curator of paintings at Liverpool Maritime museum and is author of Samuel Walters – Marine Artist and several other books on marine art. He is an authority on pier-head paintings in the period at the end of sail. This will be a scarce volume in the future and is a pleasure to dip in to. Grab it if you have any interest in the topic.
reviewed by Eddie Bourke