43

FRANCIS AUGUSTUS SILVA

American, 1835-1886

"By the Seaside, New Jersey Shore", 1883 (Keyport, New Jersey)

oil on canvas
signed and dated lower left "Francis A. Silva 1883"
26 1/4 x 40 1/4 inches

  • Provenance: Private Collection, New Jersey; D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc., New York, New York; Private Collection, Connecticut; Shannon's, Greenwich, Connecticut, April 25, 2002, lot 97; Property from a distinguished American collection.
  • Literature: Mark D. Mitchell, "Francis A. Silva In His Own Light," (New York, New York: Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc.), p. 138.

    Framed dimensions: 37 1/4 x 51 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches

    Born in New York in 1845, Francis Silva was a second generation Hudson River School painter, who did most of his painting on the banks of the Hudson River and on the Atlantic coastline. He masterfully captured light and atmosphere in his paintings characterizing him as one of the leading Luminist artists of 19th century American painting.

    Silva was born in New York City to an immigrant barber who had allegedly descended from a French painter at the Portuguese court. As a young artist, he apprenticed to a sign-painter and embellished wooden panes on stage coaches with landscapes and historical subjects. Apart from this experience, there is no recorded formal artistic training recorded in Silva's biography as he was largely self-taught.

    During the Civil War he enlisted with the New York State militia. After the war, in 1868, Silva married Margaret A. Watts in Keyport, New Jersey. The couple moved to New York where Silva established himself as an artist. Recovering from the trauma of war, Silva wanted to focus the alluring pleasures of life and render them on canvas.

    The first paintings he submitted for exhibition to the National Academy of Design were seascapes and throughout the 1870s made frequent excursions to Cape Ann, Narragansett Bay and Nyack on the Hudson. In 1879 he made his first, and only recorded, trip abroad to Venice.

    In 1880, Silva moved with his family to Long Branch, New Jersey. He maintained a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building from 1882 until his death and spent the last six years of his life painting the New Jersey coastline.[1]

    "By the Seaside, New Jersey Shore" captures the artist at his most sophisticated period, painted in 1883, while living in Long Branch, New Jersey, and working from his studio in the famed Tenth Street Studio Building. The location of Keyport, New Jersey, was significant to him as this is where he married his wife, Margaret, in 1868. The canvas glows with warm light from the setting sun casting shadow across the inlet where the figures are docking their boats at day's end.

    Biographer Mark Mitchell notes, "Silva's relationship to war and country also defined his relationship to the American seascape; as time distanced him from the events of the war, his memory, an element that he described as essential to art, likewise altered his depictions of the shore. Silva's art finally represents an end and a beginning in American art."[2]

    Silva's life and career were cut short in 1886 when he died of double pneumonia at the age of 51. His works can be viewed in numerous public and private collections including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and the Peabody Essex Museum.

    [1] "American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School," p. 316-318.
    [2] Mark D. Mitchell, "Francis A. Silva: In His Own Light", (New York, New York: Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., 2002), p. 60.



    Tags: listed artist, marine, oil painting, sail boat, coastal scene, harbor scene, sunset, 19th century, seascape, Luminist, Hudson River School
  • Condition: Please contact us for a condition report prepared by Yost Conservation, LLC.

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