Seascapes refer to art works that depict the sea. These works may be paintings, etchings, engravings, or even photographs. While some people may refer to the depiction of the sea as Marine art or Maritime art, the term seascape is most commonly used to reflect the marine genre. The term originated around the year 1790 and was modeled after the term landscape. Seascapes typically depict views at sea or views from the shore. The ocean, beaches, coastlines, ships at sea, nautical images–these elements make up seascape art works.
Strictly speaking, reference to Maritime Art not only reflects the sea, but human interaction with it; these works would include ships or beach-goers, for instance. Marine art, on the other hand, refers to works that simply reflect the sea or coasts of the sea. The term seascape popularly refers to both Maritime Are and Marine Art.
Interestingly, reference to the term seascape refers to the subject of the art work–not the medium used or style employed by the artist. While the term seascape became popular between 1790 and 1800, art works depicting the sea stretch back to antiquity. Throughout time artists have been inspired by the sea and have created works to capture it on rock walls, paintings, etchings, pottery, and even tapestries. Early works, for example, like Odysseus and the Sirens, dates to 480 B.C. in Greece. Artists have created seascapes by employing a wide array of artistic styles such as Realism, Romantic Art, Impressionism, and Modernism.
Seascapes have been a popular genre of art particularly from 17 th through 19 th centuries. This coincides with the Golden Age of Sale and Europe’s colonization of various far-flung lands around the globe. Beginning with the end of the Middle Ages, artists began to pay increasing attention to this artistic genre as global exploration advanced. During the Dutch Golden Age of Painting (17th century), Dutch artists became particularly associated with seascape paintings, though maritime nations like England with its vast navy and their artists also favored seascapes.
There is a myriad of seascape works that are acclaimed internationally and showcased within the world’s most illustrious museums. Some celebrated seascapes include Naval Battle in the Gulf of Naples (1558) by Peter Brueghel, The Shipwreck (1772) by Claude Joseph Vernet, The Jetty of Calais (1803) by J.M.W. Turner (renowned seascape artist), Christ on the Sea of Galilee (1854) by Eugene Delacroix, Ships at Le Havre (1887) by Eugene Boudin, De Haven (1875) by Berthe Morisot, and The Wave (1870) by Gustave Courbet. Similarly, there are also an astounding number of seascape works of photography. A notable series includes those taken by Frank Hurley, photographer of the Shackleton expedition, while he was stranded with the ship’s crew in Antarctica.