Clarkson Stanfield began his career as a Naval Officer, but became one the most skilled marine artists of his era. This work shows Dutch boats around Texel Island, off the coast of Holland. When a version of the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1844, a reviewer praised the ‘astonishing movement and clearness of the water’, which he described as ‘a triumphant challenge to the closest comparison with nature.’
Clarkson Stanfield was born in Sunderland and spent nine years of his early life as a seaman. He went to sea at the age of 15 and joined the Royal Navy at 18. After being invalided out of the Navy, he joined the Merchant Service and travelled as far as China. On his return he took a job as a scene painter in the East London theatre and for the next 18 years earned his living painting, often for the Drury Lane Theatre. His largest work, commissioned by the United Services Club, Pall Mall, is some 15 feet in length and shows the Battle of Trafalgar (c.1836). Stanfield exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820, 1821 and from 1827 until his death, and was elected a Royal Academician in 1835.
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