Montague Dawson, RSMA, FRSA 1895-1973

Montague Dawson was born in Chiswick in 1985, the son of an engineer-inventor who also happened to be an enthusiastic and expert Thames yatchsman. Dawson's grandfather Henry had been a successful landscape painter and having skipped a generation, the grandfather's artistic abilities were inherited by the grandson in full measure.


Fascinated by ships and the sea from an early age, young Montague's interest was deepened when the family moved to a house bordering the Southampton Water. By the age of eight, Dawson was already painting seriously and by fifteen he had gained employment in a commercial art studio in Bedford Row, London, where he illustrated posters.


At the beginning of the Great War, Dawson became a naval officer and spent several years serving in armed trawlers and minesweepers, all the time continuing to draw when his duties allowed. During his shore leave, Dawson would visit Charles Napier Hemy, an established marine painter living in Falmouth who was to have a profound influence upon the young artist.


It is most likely due to the influence of Hemy that Dawson became a professional artist at the end of the war. Dawson's ability to master both oil and watercolour is not only representative in the high prices he consistently fetches but also his reputation as one of the best marine artists of the 20th Century.


After the War, Montague based himself as a professional marine painter, focusing on historical subject matters and portraiture of deep-water sailing ships frequently in stiff breeze or on elevated seas. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Dawson was employed as a battle artist and got the chance to work for The Sphere.


Dawson exhibited on a daily basis at the Royal Society of Marine Artists, of which he established himself a regular member, from 1946 to 1964, and occasionally at the Royal Academy during the time of 1917 to 1936. By the 1930s, Dawson was regarded as one of the finest living marine artists, whose patrons were two American Presidents, Dwight D Eisenhower and Lyndon B Johnson, as well as the British Royal Family. It is believed that in the 1930s, Dawaon also got shifted to Milford-On-Sea in Hampshire, residing there for many years. Dawson is prominent for the strict accuracy in the nautical detail of his paintings, which he would often sell for six figures.


Though oftentimes illustrating clipper ships from the 19th century, he many a times painted ships from the late 17th-century, as in one of his most well-known and respected works, The Crescent Moon, which depicts and puts forth a three-decker pirate ship on a serene night in the Southern coastal seas.


Born on September 19, 1890 in London, United Kingdom, Montague had no formal and professional art training, but commenced to draw as a child and built-in his illustration skills at a commercial art studio in 1910. Even after admitting himself to the Royal Navy, the British artist continued to give in his work to publications such as Sphere and The Graphic. He passed away on May 21, 1973 in Midhurst, United Kingdom at the age of 83.