The ship as image : Scotland's contribution to the genre of ship portraiture from AD700 to 1914
This paper is a broad examination of the ship as portrayed in Scottish art from AD700 to AD1914. It examines the activities of Scottish ship painters and questions whether there are any styles that are distinctively Scottish within the genre. The earliest examples are anonymous relief carvings on Pictish stelae (St Orland's Stone) and West Highland gravestones (The Rodil Galley). Marine painting as a developed form was introduced to the British Isles from the Netherlands. Practitioners generally tended to concentrate in areas that were the focus of marine activity. Thus the genre was initially strong in the south of England and gradually diffused through the United Kingdom to Scotland, when the latter became a major centre for ship owning and ship building in the nineteenth century. Most Scottish marine artists of the eighteenth century practised their craft in England (eg. W. Anderson and JC Schetky). In the nineteenth century Scotland was important in its own right and Salmon and Clarke developed a sub-genre described as the 'Clyde Style'. This was categorised by a mixture of precise draughtmanship and clear atmospheric lighting which modulated and integrated the melange of elements within the picture field. Local artists fulfilled the needs of local maritime communities, especially among the fishing and whaling centres of north-east Scotland. Apart from the Clyde Style there was no real departure from the national style of ship portraiture. Ship portraiture tends to be conservative and rather international. It does not to any great extent adopt the stylistic trends which modify other branches of the arts. The criteria for an acceptable ship portrait is a combination of precise technological draughtsmanship with an ability to portray the elemental forces of sea and sky. The patrons tended to be knowledgeable seamen and what they expected was essentially a romantic paradigm of man's ability to confront the raw forces of nature with the fruits of his own technology.