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    Description

    Montague Dawson (British, 1895-1973)
    Smugglers' Bay
    Oil on canvas
    40 x 50 inches (101.6 x 127 cm)
    Signed lower left: Montague Dawson

    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF HARRY W. BASS, JR., DALLAS, TEXAS

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Frost & Reed, London, 1971 (no. 46509);
    Harry W. Bass, Jr., Dallas, Texas;
    Private collection, Dallas, Texas, by descent.

    The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where Flint buried them; and certainly they shall lie there for me. Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts, or start upright in bed, with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: 'Pieces of eight! pieces of eight!' -Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

    Widely considered the foremost marine artist of the 20th century, Montague Dawson is best known for his masterful draftsmanship and technical accuracy in depicting ships at sail and in battle. Continuing in the grand legacy of English marine artists, Dawson painted subjects ranging from the Battle of Trafalgar, to scenes from the American War of Independence, the return of the Cutty Sark, and the races between tea clippers returning to London from China. Extremely unusual for the artist and exceedingly rare, however, are his pirate-themed scenes, of which the present work is most certainly one of the finest examples. These narrative works by Dawson illustrate just how versatile an artist he was, depicting figures and still-life elements with equal proficiency and elegance as he did his nautical subjects.

    Dawson made a sea voyage to the Caribbean in the 1920s, which may have served as inspiration for the present work. The probable setting of his scene is Pirates' Cove on Cocos Island, off the shore of Costa Rica. Historically associated with pirate folklore and legends surrounding troves of buried treasure, the island is said to have also provided the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Dawson wrote of the setting, "There is one thing, it has been called Smugglers' Cove and it should be Pirates' Cove, they would never have customs officers on desert Pacific Islands, of that I am positive, having been there."

    Though Dawson was a professional illustrator, contributing regularly to Sphere magazine during his service in the Royal Navy in the First World War and serving as official war illustrator in the Second, his pirate scenes were not, in fact, created as illustrations. That may come as a surprise to a viewer of this work, as one can easily imagine the narrative scene accompanying a captivating tale in a popular periodical, chronicling the adventures of pirates smuggling their stolen loot to a tropical island camp in the dark of night, illuminated only by a radiant moon.

    The present work was purchased from the artist into Frost & Reed gallery stock on January 26, 1971, and was sold in July that year to Harry W Bass, Jr., in whose family collection it has remained since its purchase.

    We would like to thank Juliet Byford for her gracious assistance in cataloguing this lot.




    Condition Report*: Original unlined canvas. Paint film in fully stable condition, with no evidence of any condition issues, restoration or conservation. Under UV examination, certain brown and white pigments fluoresce under UV light, but are likely the artist’s hand. They are on top of the varnish, and consistent with the artist's technique. As the painting was acquired directly from the artist's studio by Frost & Reed, and sold soon after to the Bass family who have never had it cleaned or restored in any way, it is highly likely that the artist made a few improvements to the work prior to its sale to Frost & Reed.
    Framed Dimensions 46.5 X 56.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2019
    7th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,720

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