Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Born in Whitehaven, England, a coastal town on the Irish Sea, Robert Salmon devoted his life to painting the sea in its variety of states. Salmon's keen eye for detail, along with his tight draughtsmanship made him superior in rendering of all the intricacies found aboard a fully equipped sailing ship.

In June 1828, Salmon immigrated to the United States, settling first in New York, but soon moved to Boston where he remained for fourteen years. Having been trained in the Anglo-Dutch painting style, Salmon quickly became distinguished from his American contemporaries. By utilizing a perspective set close to the subject, and placing the horizon line low, Salmon accentuated the expressive atmospheric elements of the sky and background, a novel technique to the eyes of American artists at that time. Salmon's refreshing style was well received, and within a year of his arrival, he exhibited twelve paintings at the Annual Exhibition of the Boston Athenaeum, marking the start of a long and prosperous painting career. Salmon became renowned not only as a master marine painter, but also as a brilliant landscapist attentive to topographical elements of the region. Salmon's attention to detail and atmosphere, in conjunction with his strong sense of design and composition, helped establish a tradition in American painting that was perpetuated throughout the nineteenth century by his famous pupils William Bradford, Albert Van Beest, and Fitz Hugh Lane.

Robert Salmon was quite popular during his lifetime and he enjoyed exhibitions at the Royal Academy, London in 1802, the Greenock Art Society, the Glasgow Institution, and the Academy of Liverpool Royal Institution. His paintings can be found in prestigious private collections and institutions including the National Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Art, and the Preservation of New England Antiquities, Boston.


John Wilmerding, Robert Salmon, Painter of Ship and Shore, Peabody Museum, MA, 1971.