The Sailing, Selling Stobart

Well-known for his art on maritime adventures, the realist painter John Stobart also had a knack for selling these watery works. As is typical with any other artist to sell his or her works, this new Principle Gallery artist was an especially savvy salesman.

Whaling Bark, Charles W. Morgan HR

“The Whaling Bark, Charles W. Morgan,” 24×38, Oil on linen, Principle Gallery in Charleston

Realizing his potential and profitability in the arts after his time at London’s Royal Academy Schools in the late 1940s, he showcased smaller paintings displaying the local landscape which sold fairly well. He had noticed from this venture that paintings portraying recognizable landmarks and familiar scenes appealed to his local customers. So, maybe this is where his knack started?

On his voyage to South Africa in the 1950s to meet his father, Stobart then departed from this genre to paint scenes of what he is now known for today – those of ports enriched with color and astonishing realism. He was inspired to both sketch and paint the ports and vessels wherever he docked, eventually getting the idea to sell these pieces as calendars and interior decorations to those working within the maritime industry. Here, Stobart’s artistic passion and salesman-like nature proved very promising in the long haul.

After making a name for himself in places like London and Toronto, Stobart went to the United States with only four paintings in his hand to see if he’d have as much luck as before. His different take of promoting patriotism through recognized scenic ports put him above and beyond other maritime painters to the point that he was offered his own show by the Wunderlich family almost immediately after his arrival – later he would have seven sell-out shows with the help of this established family.

Chinese Junk_HR
“Unloading in Hong Kong, The Dashing Wave,” 18×24, Oil on linen, Principle Gallery in Charleston

But how did he come up with this strategy to quickly and easily sell his works? Stobart recognized the lack of familiar, patriotic painted marinas and sea vessels in the American art market, and then made the conscious decision- and possibly unconscious business move – to paint what no one else painted and what everyone wanted. Today his works, like the ones pictured above, are still incomparable in realistic representation of maritime harbors, historic ports, and seaworthy vessels.

As if meant to be, the Principle Gallery in Charleston is now happy to house some of these amazing works in an area similar to the waters Stobart so loved and admired. Feel free to visit the Principle Gallery’s website to have a look at Stobart’s works and see his mesmerizing seascapes for yourself!

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