Marine Painting

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Visitors to the Hammond-Harwood House often ask about the feature in the dining room that looks like a picture frame attached to the wall above the fireplace. This is known as an overmantle. Originally this feature was blank; in the 19th century the Loockerman family added a mirror to the space. The mirror was removed in the 1920’s after St. John’s purchased the property. Years later in 1967 the Hammond-Harwood House Association sought an appropriate painting for the overmantle. Proceeds from the sale of the Maryland’s Way Cookbook were used to purchase a painting for the space.

The Furnishings Committee decided on this genteel work by British maritime painter Francis Swaine (1715-1785). Swaine developed his interest in marine scenes early on– during his time as a messenger for the Royal Navy. He later studied with artists Peter Monamy and John Clevely, the elder. During his long career from 1730 until 1782, Swaine worked in London, and several of his paintings were made into engravings. Although he had occasional commissions to recreate actual battles on the canvas, he mostly painted general marine subjects and fictitious skirmishes like the one depicted in this 1774 painting.
Swaine has a connection to the Annapolis artist Charles Willson Peale. While Peale was studying in England (1767-1769), he painted copies of three of Swaine’s works. The Peale family was very fond of copies. In 1828 his son Rembrandt Peale wrote, “No artist…can be sure that he can make a good original picture, if he is unable to make a good copy.”

England, c. 1774
Artist: Francis Swaine (1715-1785), English
Medium: Oil on Canvas
P55 Purchased from M. Bernard Gallery in London in 1967 with proceeds from the sales of Maryland’s Way Cookbook.

Posted on Apr 6, 2022 in , by Hammond-Harwood House



Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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