George Curtis (1816–1881)
Sailing off the Coast, 1878
Oil on panel, 11 ½ x 20 in.
Signed and dated lower right: Geo. Curtis 1878
Provenance: a Cape Cod estate; private collection, Plymouth, Massachusetts
In this fine yachting scene, the artist chose a very low vantage point, as though the viewer is sitting in a dinghy: one can almost feel the rocking sensation while looking at the choppy foreground waves that seem to come right up to the bow. Strong sunlight spotlights the two central vessels, bleaching their sails and bringing out their firm contours. With their sails set against the sky and their hulls breaking the horizon line, the ships seem to teeter on top of the water, so that the viewer registers their unstable forms as an exciting visual tension.