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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sea Painter's World by Geoff Hunt, 27 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
The Sea Painter's World by Geoff Hunt

Geoff Hunt is a Past President of the Royal Society of Marine Artists and in this book, besides presenting us with images of his work, explains in considerable depth the practical side of how he goes about his art; at a level, it is a master class; the reader will emerge fully equipped to become a marine artist save only for his own want of talent.

The scope of the book's subjects is large, from large (a battle cruiser) to small (racing dinghys), from Mary Rose to modern, via the ever-evocative age of fighting sail - picturesque now; brutal in its day. We see the artist mostly in oils - beautiful reproductions of finished work and also sketches - but also, showing his versatility, in watercolour and other media.

For a marine painting to be enjoyed by a seafarer, the painter's eye must be matched with that of a seaman. In this Hunt is up with masters like Wyllie and the Van der Veldes. I own a painting by a recognised marine artist which I know was made from a newspaper photograph because I have the actual cutting; the setting is flipped left for right and shows two sets of davits to starboard instead of the three that should be visible, and so also I expect in the variant (HMS Norfolk) commissioned by the Prince of Wales. Hunt never makes a mistake like this; he paints from painstaking inquiry (which he explains in the text). Indeed his research is so thorough that at one point he manages to trip up CS Forester on a point of detail relating to beakheads. Another example is his heart-searching over not being able to fix the fore course tackline leads on the Mary Rose (although perhaps an idea of what would work might be had from the Mathew replica in Bristol, or the Santa Maria elsewhere). He is right to be concerned, for old shellbacks are devils for nit-picking. The retired Vice Admiral Curteis, who had trained in sail, happened to visit Portsmouth Dockyard shortly after the Victory had been re-rigged in the 1960s. His wigging of the Admiral Superintendent regarding mistakes aloft in Victory would have been good listening (but who will correct the 21st century re-rig?). Hunt's detail of rigging and fittings is meticulous; equally, in his work, the sea and the sails completely match the wind. The National Maritime Museum's `East Indiamen in the China Seas' shows a group of Indiamen each of which seems to have a private wind all of her own; although the detail of each is well depicted the painting fails to satisfy in point of seamanship even though the painter had been at sea in Indiamen for years.

Hunt does not only research the physical subject and setting of each picture. He also gives us the circumstantial history, for he is not `just' a painter, he is no mean naval historian. Indeed he describes himself as a `history junkie', and we are the beneficiaries of this in terms of all sorts of arcane points of detail. For the Nile and Trafalgar the likely customer will probably already know the story, but Hunt also covers some much less well-known incidents and engagements and has researched their detail thoroughly, expatiating on these so as to illuminate the resulting picture for us. He really comes into his own with the New England cruise of the Rainbow during the American colonists' treasonous insurrection. Incidentally Hunt might enjoy "A Naval Career During the Old War" by Admiral John Markham (1883) as background to that conflict.

Put all this together and each painting is evocative. For instance, Hunt shows Victory leading the line into contact at Trafalgar. The wind is light; the ships lumber into battle at a knot and a half; so powerful is the painting, that the viewer can see in his mind's eye the silent gundecks, the men prone between the guns. Soon will come the order `Stand To!' (this is the origin of that order): all will rise up and, still silent, taking punishment from the enemy as it comes, will rake their first opponent with a rippling broadside which will leave almost as many French dead as the whole British butcher's bill for the entire engagement. The disciplined silence will give way to roaring cacophony, as the great guns leap to their breech tackles, and battle is joined from the blood-stained gundecks of the Royal Navy. All this is implied in Hunt's depiction of the lowering menace of the approaching ships. It worked for me.

Hunt explains and illustrates the difference between fine, exact work in the studio and rougher, more rushed and interrupted painting out of doors (let alone at sea). There is an interesting juxtaposition between sketch and finished work on p.134 (the fictional HMS Leopard). For me, the spontaneity and immediacy of the first seemed to have more power than the more formal treatment delivered to the client.

I was personally pleased to find a treatment of the Battle of Pulau Aur in which a group of Indiamen finessed Johnny Frog and beat him off in 1804. On a point of order Pulau Aur is in the South China Sea rather than the Malacca Straits but perhaps, as he is illustrating a Patrick O'Brian book, it is that author who has moved it. C Northcote Parkinson has treated of Indiamen in his "Trade in the Eastern Seas" and "War in the Eastern Seas" and Hunt may find more subject matter for his brush therein; for rigging detail if not for atmosphere there are the works of W J Huggins.

Many of Hunt's subjects have of course been treated by others. Try Bill Bishop at [...] , or Google older artists such as Richard Joicey, Norman Wilkinson, or W L Wyllie, for some interesting comparisons (there should still be a good Wilkinson of D-Day, together with his sketches, in the Map Room at the Defence College of Policing and Guarding at Southwick House, Hants).

Will it fit your bookcase? The volume measures 11½" deep x 12" high. The standard of reproduction and layout is extremely high (as one would expect from Conway), although the colour balance differs between two separate reproductions of one of the paintings (pp 24 & 81). There is the odd infelicity of English but that will only jar for older readers. There is a useful index and a short bibliography. For those whose appetites have been whetted for a deeper background on sailing warships I would recommend "The Wooden World" by NAM Rodger (Collins 1986).

This book (metaphorically) reeks of salt as well as oil paint. For those who have used the sea and miss Masefield's whale's way, or as a Christmas present for an old sailor, highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Altogether quite excellent!, 22 Nov 2011
By 
Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
As a shipwreck historian, I have been studying ships and shipwrecks for almost 40 years. Indeed my own latest work contains a special commission of 20 maritime paintings of various shipwrecks. The artist I used is one of world-class ability who taught me much about the subject thus enabling me to cast a `qualified' critical eye over this work.

Ships are not easy subjects for the artist because, even if drawn technically correctly, they can look all wrong. The secret to good maritime art is to study the subject - and study it well. It was quite clear to me from my first scanning through the many pages of excellent paintings found in this work that artist and author Geoff Hunt knows his subjects far better than most. I use the plural because it is quite apparent to me that he knows his ships as well as he knows how to mix paints. Add to that his obvious skills as an accomplished artist and one might even leave the review at that!

That said, this is far more than a just a showcase for his paintings. In this work, Geoff Hunt describes the various scenes and ships of Nelson's day which once graced those foreshores as he puts the two together to provide the world with an authentic portrait from long ago. Just as nobody would accept a photograph of, say, a Lion described as being a Tiger, so those who know their ships will not accept a portrait of some obscure 50-gun man of war from the 18th Century as being HMS Victory. Similarly, one cannot paint a fleet of ships in, for example, Cadiz and claim they are in Gibraltar Harbour.

What we take from this book are, therefore, many, many lessons and those which are learned from across pages 70 and 71 are a good example of the detail which goes into a single picture. On the right we have a photograph of St. Tropez taken (by the author) from the sea. This image is far enough away to give an idea of what the town might have looked like some 250 years ago. An ancient church tower is very prominent. Below this is one of his many preparatory sketches of various features showing the stern of a 10-gun sloop circa 1741-1766. On the left hand page we find his finished painting of a fleet of ships outside St. Tropez in 1742 - complete with that coastline and church tower! I also liked his painting of the CSS Alabama leaving Cherbourg Harbour 19 June 1864. Having recently read that particular story, I think he's got exactly right.

Just a couple of simple examples from an altogether quite excellent book from which anyone from the budding artist to those with a love of ships and the sea will learn a great deal.

I cannot rate this product highly enough and I know it will not disappoint the reader.

NM
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumpteous and informative - quite fascinating, 28 Nov 2011
By 
Mr. S. W. Wilson (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
This is a first-rate book-of-the-line! Geoff Hunt's narrative really takes you under the skin of his approach, from painstakingly accurate research to pencil then colour working sketches to final, flawless execution. I was not only delighted by the wide selection of his published marine works but by the many private marine commissions included too. His far looser style for some informal marine sketches and for his landscape painting is stunning - a real revelation! There is a great cross-section of this 'alternative' style, from Admiralty Arch to Henley, Putney, Rotherhithe and Greenwich Reach. His great boatyard and dockyard paintings span from a beautiful steam launch to the new destroyer HMS DRAGON building, and give a real sense of the hard work involved - to my mind recalling Lt.-Col. Harold Wyllie's "AGAMEMNON building at Buckler's Hard". All in all, a book to treasure. Thanks goodness for Conway Maritime. Now if I could only win the lottery - difficult as I don't do it - to commission an original Hunt of my own!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marine art, 17 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
great book amazing illustration from this top marine artist very happy fast delivery a book for your collection many thanks
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great present, 15 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
This book was a great present for the person that asked for it and it came in plenty of time.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and informative., 17 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
It would have been so easy for a publisher to take advantage and make this book a ‘coffee table glossy’ - all style and no substance. Of course, Conway was never going to do that. This book complements the earlier publication ‘The Maritime Art of Geoff Hunt’ (which I also recommend). There is an interesting introduction by maritime curator and author James Taylor, a fascinating section entitled ‘The Sea Painter’s World’ in which Geoff Hunt discusses the various aspects of painting both in the studio and outside, and half a dozen widely ranging case studies including the Mary Rose, the Battle of the Nile and Nelson in the West Indies. The easy going, chatty style of narrative makes for engaging and informative reading. The quality of this publication is of a very high order; indeed it is a pleasure to handle. I found myself continually dipping back into this book, which is always a good sign. Anyone with a love of the sea, ships and painting will not be disappointed if they buy this for it will make for an excellent purchase. Very highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than I imagined, 11 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
I bought this as a gift for my father and was thrilled at how much he enjoyed it.
It has illustrations for the Patrick O'Brien novels, which he enjoys, as well as Nelson's ships.
It was well worth the money
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sea Painter's World., 20 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
There are very few books that give you an insight into how an artist goes about painting a picture of something that no longer exists, this one does and Geoff Hunt brings the painting to life.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My opinion, 29 April 2012
By 
Steve "Trajan" (Northern England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 (Hardcover)
Geoff Hunt's paintings as well as his books are a delight to look at. In this book he describes the illustrative process from placing wooden "ships" on a board in positions in a certain battle, to explaining that the colour, viridian can somehow envelop a painting when using it to render sea. Instead he recommends cobalt blue and raw sienna. I tried using these colours with white and it works. Geoff Hunt is a master in his field, being expert in things like ship's rigging etc. I have no reservations in recommending this book.
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