Gordon Grant (1875-1962)

Gordon Grant (1875-1962)

“Gordon Grant knows the sea only as one who has roved upon it. Its romance appealed to him when he was a lad, and age has only added glamor to it.” [1]

[1] “Gordon Grant’s Sea Pictures,” American Art News, November 12, 1921, Vol. XX, No. 5, p. 1

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Born in San Francisco in 1875, Gordon Grant’s Scottish parents sent him to London when he was fifteen years old to enroll in the Lambeth and Heatherley art schools. The long voyage around Cape Horn instilled in him a respect for the ocean and allowed Grant to learn a great deal about sails, rigging, navigation and the history of maritime travel. Returning to San Francisco in 1895, he secured a position as an illustrator for the Chronicle before moving to New York a year later and joining several arts organizations, including the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Watercolor Clubs, and the National Academy of Design. Grant continued his commercial projects, working as a correspondence-artist for Harper’s in 1899 during the Boer War in South Africa, and he also created illustrations for Puck magazine between 1901 and 1909. He joined the National Guard around 1907 and during World War I, when a bad foot prevented him from serving abroad, Grant was stationed in Washington, DC, attained the rank of Captain and produced posters for the government and the American Red Cross to support the war effort. 

Grant continued his illustration work in the 1920s, but began to concentrate even more on the nautical themes he loved to paint and soon earned the recognition he deserved as an accomplished artist. He exhibited at a range of venues, including the National Academy, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy, the Salmagundi Club, and the Paris Salon of 1937, where he won a medal for his entry. Many of his images were used in publications and later reproduced as prints, drawing the attention and admiration of the general public. Grant was a man of many talents, working in a variety of media ranging from oils and watercolors to etching and lithography, and his harbor scenes and clipper ships were executed with a crisp realism, capturing the subtleties of light and color. Additionally, Grant had a gift for the written word and many of his marine scenes are now immortalized in tales that he illustrated and authored, including Ships under Sail in 1941 and The Secret Voyage in 1943. 

References: See Who Was Who in American Art (1986); 200 Years of American Illustration (Society of Illustrators, 1977); “Romance with the Fishing Fleet,” by Carl Helm. Popular Science Monthly, July 1928, Vol. 113, No. 1, pp. 32-33; “Gordon Grant’s Sea Pictures,” American Art News, November 12, 1921, Vol. XX, No. 5, p. 1.

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