(Enlarged Photo)

Steamer on the Far Horizon

Henry Moore R.A (1831-1895)

Signed and dated, 1873.

Henry Moore is one of the finest maritime painters in the history of British art, but in most of his paintings, you have to look pretty hard to find the boat. As his obituarist in The Times wrote, in 1895: “His delight was in the sea itself and in atmosphere…”

The seascape we have for sale is an exquisite early example of Moore’s sea-painting (he began painting the sea in the late 1860s). It was painted in 1873, a year after ‘Winter Gale in the Channel’, which Moore’s biographer, Francis McLean, describes as the artist’s “masterpiece in grey rough-sea painting” - and the two pictures share similarities of subject matter and treatment.

McLean observes in the painting a sense of “unutterable loneliness….enhanced by the presence of one tiny steamship seen on the horizon, a spout of grey smoke”.

Our picture, painted in 1873, employs the same device, a steamship on the far horizon, but the atmosphere is much less doom-laden. There is a break in the clouds and the hint of a sunset to come.

Moore’s art - like that of the French impressionists, who were just beginning to make themselves felt in Paris at the time of this painting - was about conveying mood through light, colour and movement, rather than pure representation – a fact noted in the artist’s obituary:

“Having mastered wave-form in its immense variety, he set himself to paint the rollers of the mid-Channel or the quiet surface of the waters, or the little waves as they come rippling towards the shore, considering all of them as problems of light and colour as much as form and movement.”

Provenance: A label attached to the stretcher shows that at one time, the painting was either owned or exhibited at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which still houses a significant collection of Moore’s work but which de-accessioned a number of works by the artist in the 1950s.

In original gilded oak composite frame.


Tel: 0791 935 6150        Email simfineart@btinternet.com     1 Royal Parade, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 5PG