The Cape Horner Cutty Sark, by Montague Dawson R.S.M.A. (1890-1973) Maritime Arts Gallery in Bonita Springs, Florida
For 51 years, the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut has had a Maritime Art Gallery, devoted to paintings by contemporary marine artists that are for sale to the public. But this summer, the gallery will close for good.
The reasons behind the closure include a soft market generally for this type of work and the fact that the museum, which like many others has been seeking donations to keep itself afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, is no longer willing to subsidise the art space. “There were a lot of costs associated with this gallery, and it needed to generate more revenue, which it wasnt able to do,” says Monique Foster, the gallerys director since 2015.
Vineyard Haven, Marthas Vineyard Island, Black Dog Tavern by John Stobart Maritime Arts Gallery in Bonita Springs, Florida
That is not to say that sales have been nonexistent. The gallery stages four exhibitions annually—a show of miniatures, a display of work by artists around the world, a plein air exhibition and a themed Spring show—and between 100 and 150 paintings were sold every year, with the average price at around $2,000, Foster says. Still, artists received half of the sales receipts, and the gallerys take did not cover all the expenses of maintaining the space, paying salaries and promoting the exhibitions.
The larger issue may be that marine art generally has a declining audience. “Its like brown furniture,” Foster said, referring to antiques. “So many of the big collectors arent buying more marine art, and their children dont want it.”
A primitive painting of a whaling scene, signed lower right "Deboer", is offered for sale for $250-$350 at Eldreds auction house in East Dennis, Cape Cod Eldreds auction house in East Dennis, Cape Cod
Commercial art galleries around the country report much the same thing. “Older gents and ladies who have bought marine art in the past have passed on, and the next generation isnt as interested,” says Peter Kiernan, the owner of Maritime Arts Gallery in Bonita Springs, Florida. He adds that, in the past decade, 20%-25% of the gallerys salRead More – Source