May 25


Ocean Painting: Ocean As Source of Inspiration for Marine Artists

For centuries and decades, the beauty of the ocean has inspired many artists to take out their paintbrush and craft a fascinating piece of art. From the depth of the sea to its shore, the ocean has never failed to capture our hearts with its ethereal magic and all the secrets that it holds in itself.

Many artists felt the same way. There have been numerous paintings inspired by the ocean and its intensity that the ocean could be counted as a recurring theme for artists. Marine art or maritime art is more figurative art that draws its inspiration from the sea and/or the ocean – it was a particularly strong genre in the 17th to 19th century.

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This genre of painting is more concentrated on the depiction of waves, ships, and other factors associated with the ocean. Landscape art soon surfaced after the Renaissance period, marine art took its place as an important element in works – however, pure seascapes became quite rare in the making until later. This article will highlight all the famous artworks featuring the ocean in their themes by artists who have done their paintings justice.

What Are the Themes in Marine Art?

Traditionally in marine art, an artist would use the imagery of ships framed by harbors or the depiction of sea battles. However, as the minds began to explore and artists began to learn that they could paint so much more, they moved on to other topics.

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Many artists began to admire fresh air and recreation, so they began incorporating that in their paintings too. For example, John Constable was the artist to paint the sea-bathing scenario at Brighton. Moving on, the art began to be influenced by World War I and II – among these artists were Norman Wilkinson and Peter Scott who painted the camouflaged warship schemes.

In the 21st century, marine art was heavily influenced by ships and boats; beaches and harbors; seas and storms; and fish and seabirds. Today’s marine artists respond to many themes that will continue to exist for centuries and so many themes that they are yet to discover.

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Famous Paintings based on Marine Art

The Fighting ‘Téméraire’ Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken Up

Painted between 1838 and 1839 by Joseph Mallord William Turner, this ocean painting is considered to be one of his best of the time. His career as an artist was at an all-time high and he chose to paint the atmospheric study of light and the empire for this painting.

Very well-known for his paintings related to the ocean and the sea, many of his paintings were painted after keeping the River Thames in mind or any of the other industrial heartlands in the 19th century of England.

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This painting is meant to symbolize the decline of the British Empire and the painting has also won the nation’s favorite painting in a poll that was hosted by BBC. The shifting fate of one nation after the decline of this strength brought a type of unity amongst everyone and this is exactly what the painting wants to portray.

Christ In the Storm on the Sea

Being the only seascape Rembrandt Van Rijn ever painted, this painting is one masterpiece to behold. The original artwork was stolen after the art heist of 1990- the most unfortunate heist in the history of the US! Christ in the Storm on the Sea was painted in 1633 after the artist had moved to Amsterdam and was enjoying the commissions from people who admired his work.

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The painting portrays a biblical scenario, showing the lunges by the tides in the ocean and its gravitational pulls. The only two calm people seen in the painting are Jesus and a mysterious figure who looks straight at the viewer.

In fact, the mysterious figure could be interpreted as Rembrandt himself, supported by his resemblance to the person. This could suggest that the artist considered himself to be a crewmember with Jesus and his 12 apostles and contemplates his own role in the biblical tale.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805

Louis Philippe Crepin’s painting from 1805 very evidently shows the Battle of Trafalgar in which the naval fleets from British and French engaged in a tense battle on the high seas. The frame features the French ship called Redoubtable which is quite prominent in the masterpiece.

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The fleets are seen sharing a fire with the HMS Téméraire which is also the same ship featured in Turner’s ‘The Fighting Téméraire’ – the artist has painted this photo as a tribute to the great British naval hero, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Louis Philippe’s heartfelt creation of this eventful day brings with itself a taste of victory and also a nostalgia for defeat. The painting is extremely thoughtful and also a perfect piece of art for historical imagining.


Marine art portrayed by the world-class famous painters has never failed to impress the art enthusiasts. There is still a huge market for these contemporary paintings that depict wars or even peace – both ends to the scale exist in the theme. This genre of art will hold a separate place in the eyes of the beholder – that’s for sure.  To browse through more of such paintings, you can visit to treat the ocean-lover inside you.

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