New Release: The Art of Naval Portraiture

March 29 2024

Image of New Release: The Art of Naval Portraiture


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Museums Greenwich have just released a new book entitled The Art of Naval Portraiture. This publication was written by Katherine Gazzard, one of the museum's curators.

According to the book's blurb:

From elite officers to ordinary sailors, the portrayal of naval personnel has been a significant branch of British art for over 500 years. The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich holds the largest collection of naval portraits in the world, including over 600 paintings and many more prints and drawings, spanning from the sixteenth century to the present day.

These portraits reveal how the Royal Navy was viewed at different moments in history and grant us access to individual stories, revealing the concerns and aspirations of people and families caught up in naval affairs. Many are also innovative and important works of art. For centuries, naval portraits have forged, reinforced and challenged ideas of gender, heroism and loyalty. They have functioned as icons of empire, demonstrations of professionalism and personal mementos for loved ones.

While charting the historical evolution of the Royal Navy’s image and explaining the meaning of common naval symbols – from anchors, cannons and swords to uniforms, medals and badges, this book also tells the stories of specific artists, sitters and collectors, and of the places where portraits were made and displayed, from private homes to public exhibitions and ultimately the museum itself.

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