Arthur Beaumont in his combat correspondent uniform, China, 1947
Beaumont Family Archives
FROM THE EXHIBITION
Click the titles below to access the gallery wall text.
Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea
To the artist Arthur Beaumont (1890-1978), the sea and the vessels that sailed on it held endless fascination. He sought to create an artistic record of the activities and accomplishments of the U.S. Navy, from the launching of the U.S.S. Constitution in 1797, to the fierce battles of World War II, to the Atomic Bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, and to the expeditions to the North and South Poles. All of these historic events and more are recorded in his paintings.
Beaumont’s body of work includes numerous portraits of specific naval vessels, including mighty aircraft carriers and battleships as well as personal yachts of presidents and celebrities. His art portrays not only admirals but also common sailors and soldiers. They formed the core of his series of significant wartime commissions for National Geographic Magazine. In 1958, Beaumont was named Artist Laureate of the U.S. Fleet.
BRUSHES WITH FAME
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
WORLD WAR II
AFTER THE WAR
Arthur Beaumont sketching on the deck of the USS Midway, November 1945
Beaumont Family Archives
Watercolors for Water’s Colors
In Beaumont’s earliest works he used oil paints on board or canvas to create thick, impressionistic scenes. As he continued to study painting and developed as an artist, he explored different mediums such as ink pens and—following many painters active in the Southern California area—watercolors. The portability of the materials and the spontaneous nature of the method made the medium perfect for the dynamic conditions of the sea. Beaumont also enjoyed the challenge of this new medium. With oil paints mistakes could easily be painted over, but even Beaumont’s quickest watercolors took a minimum of four hours to complete and one mistake was enough to ruin the entire work. Painting with watercolors quickly became the artist’s preference. Beaumont only returned to oil paints on rare occasions after transitioning to watercolors.
Bowers Museum Permanent Collection Beaumont Artworks
In addition to the two Bowers Museum paintings on display in Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea, the Bowers Museum also happens to have a large collection of Beaumont paintings in the museum’s permanent collections. These depict both Beaumont’s characteristic naval artworks as well as the other varied subjects he painted throughout his career.
Dorothy Tennant, Arthur Beaumont’s wife, was originally from Santa Ana, California, making the Bowers Museum a natural repository for these prints, watercolors and oil paintings donated by descendants and close associates of the artist.
For more information on the Bowers Museum’s Beaumont paintings, follow the below links to the Bowers Blog:
- Beaumont’s early history, time spent in Bikini Atoll for “Operation Crossroads” and the backstory behind the first bikini swimsuit.
- Los Angeles’ little-known and short-lived China City painted by Beaumont in 1949.
- Intrigue behind a watercolor of the Carmel Mission painted by Beaumont as a larger series of magazine covers for the Jonathan Club.
- The artist’s many narrow misses with the hereafter, recounted alongside images from the exhibition.
Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea is curated by James Irvine Swinden and includes works in The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine.