Staff Report

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum will host an exhibit of 55 paintings that chronicle the accomplishments of the U.S. Navy, from the USS Constitution to atomic bomb tests and expeditions to the North and South poles.

The exhibit, “Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea,” showcasing the work of the man the U.S. Navy called the Artist of the Fleet, will be on display at SBMM for six months, starting on Dec. 3. The exhibit, which ends May 30, 2021, marks its last appearance on the West Coast before it leaves for the East Coast.

Although Arthur Beaumont (1890-1978) was born in Norfolk County, England, he came to the U.S. in 1908 to study art at Berkeley.

After studying with other artists in the U.S. and Europe and teaching art and watercolor painting, Beaumont received a commission as a lieutenant in the Navy, with his earliest paintings showing naval vessels in various settings and states of preparedness.

Following the end of World War II, Beaumont continued to travel with and paint for the U.S. Navy on missions in the Pacific, to China and Japan.

In addition to his work during the Korean War, in the production of movies, in private commissions and personal painting, Beaumont also painted frozen landscapes in Alaska and Antarctica.

Over the remaining years of his life, he painted the RMS Queen Mary as it arrived in Los Angeles, a series of Revolutionary War-era sailing vessels, portraits of prominent naval officers, and operations along the Mekong River during the Vietnam War.

Following Pearl Harbor, Beaumont ‘s work supported the U.S. war effort and reflected dramatic life-or-death struggles in the Pacific. In 1944, he was given the official title of war correspondent. 

Throughout his life, Beaumont used Impressionist techniques in painting the images in this exhibit and in capturing the majesty of the oceans and the vessels that sail them, so his work will appeal to a wide audience.

In addition to Beaumont’s paintings, the show will be accompanied by a book of his life and art, also titled “Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea,” written by Beaumont’s son Geoffrey Campbell Beaumont and published by the Irvine Museum in Irvine.

On Jan. 21 the author will offer a presentation about the exhibit and his father’s life as part of SBMM’s distinguished lecture series.