Oil on canvas, signed lower right
Image size: 24 ¾ x 20 ¾ inches (62 x 52 cm)
Contemporary style handmade frame
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This painting depicts an S-class Destroyer boat that is being repaired in Malta Dry dock in World War Two. The S-class destroyers were initially a class of 67 destroyers that were ordered from the Royal Navy in 1917 and saw the last couple of months of the First World War. Eleven of the survivors, including this vessel, were used again and saw much action during the Second World War.
Based in Malta was a dockyard, supply depot and arsenal that were used by the Royal Navy and by 1900 a total of four dry-docks were built. Malta was a great strategic base and during World War Two, due to its central position in the Mediterranean, it experienced major and intense bombings by the Axis forces. By the end of the war it had become a major base for the preparation and invasion of Sicily. Malta dockyard was closed in 1958. The docks are now owned by the Malta Shipbuilding Co Ltd which and are primarily used for repair of civilian ships.
Born in Chiswick in West London in 1895, Montague Dawson was the grandson of the eminent Victorian landscape painter Henry Dawson (1811-1878). He studied under the celebrated seascape artist Charles Napier Hemy (1841–1917) at the Royal Academy and also worked in an art school in Bedford Row. Dawson joined the navy during World War I and painted naval battles for illustrated magazines. He first met his mentor, Hemy, while on leave from the Royal Navy and frequented his studio in Falmouth, Cornwall. Hemy advised the young Dawson, “You must follow after me and you must do better than me.”
After the war Dawson became a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and began a life-long exclusive relationship with the London gallery Frost & Reed. He was also an associate of the Royal Society of Artists and a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. He was appointed as an official war artist during World War II.
Montague Dawson’s paintings are instantly recognizable. He developed a style and approach to marine painting that was entirely his own and consistent throughout his long developing career.