This small bay on the west coast of Scotland is seen on a calm day, when the sea is almost still. The small fishing village of Cairnryan, near Stranraer, looks out onto three tall ships, moored in the bay. A woman and child wait on the beach in the foreground and other figures are seen further along the beach. To the right, a dingy is being rowed ashore while, in another rowing boat, four men are heading towards one of the larger ships.
The port of Cairnryan is situated on the east shore of Loch Ryan, a coastal loch which is open to the North Atlantic, five miles north of the town on Stranraer. The small sheltered bay has good anchorage and was used as a refuge in stormy weather by vessels entering or leaving the Firth of Forth. Today, a car ferry service operates between Cairnryan and Larne, a seaport on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
John H. Gibb was born in Stirlingshire, Scotland, and studied under John Mackenzie of Greenock, Renfrewshire. He settled in the village of Innellan, on the Firth of Clyde, but briefly lived at Alnwick, Northumberland (c.1865-68). His works were exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts. In 1876 he emigrated to Christchurch, New Zealand, where he was unrivalled as a marine and coastal artist and his paintings were exhibited throughout the country. In 1879/80 he moved to Australia and became a member of the Art Society of New South Wales in Sidney. His son, W. Menzies Gibb, trained under his him and at the National Gallery of Victoria School, Melbourne. The family had returned to New Zealand by 1892.
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