BIOGRAPHY - John Stobart (Born 1929)
It was as a young art student that John Stobart first experienced the work of John Constable and Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot. Constable’s oil sketches told Stobart that he too could develop simplicity and clarity in his work. Corot’s paintings of outdoor subjects and architecture inspired Stobart’s art. In these paintings, Stobart also found a quality of light he had never before seen. The work of these artists deeply affected Stobart and prompted him to define his own artistic style.
Rigorous classical studies enabled Stobart to develop his talent and express his artistic style. At sixteen, Stobart began art studies at the College of Arts and Crafts in his hometown of Derby, England. Graduating four years later with high honors, Stobart earned a highly coveted scholarship to England’s oldest and most prestigious art academy, the Royal Academy Schools in London. Upon completion of his academic career, Stobart traveled by ship to his father’s new home in South Africa. While aboard the Braemer Castle, Stobart realized that his artistic future laid in a passion for ships and the sea. Stobart painted The Braemer Castle and quickly sold it to the Union Castle Line. Soon, the artist was on a tack that would carry his paintings of modern ships into boardrooms across England and North America.
For ten years, Stobart divided his time between England and Canada to satisfy the demands of his collectors. Then he made a discovery that would draw his talents in a new direction. Stobart learned that artists had recorded only a few nineteenth century American ports and harbors. Newly inspired, he took a six-month sabbatical to learn about this subject. He later began creating the body of work that helps to fill a void in American maritime art history and for which he is best known.
When Stobart had completed just four paintings, he traveled to New York City in search of a gallery that would show these new works. Luckily, his seat on the train was next to a man who held a prominent position in America’s art world. This stranger suggested the Kennedy Galleries to Stobart, and Stobart took his advice. When the artist showed his paintings to Margaret Wunderlich at Kennedy Galleries, he immediately received an offer for a one-man show. This and several subsequent shows were all sell-outs.
In the late 1980’s Stobart began to focus on his first love of on-site painting, creating a body of work recognizable for its fresh and spontaneous response to the moods and characteristics of nature. His paintings are collected around the world and seen by visitors of the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, Westervelt-Warner Museum in Alabama, Ventura County Maritime Museum in California and the Portland Museum in Maine. Stobart’s effort to bring his artistic ideals to a wider audience has been achieved through his limited-edition prints as well as other means. John Stobart’s WorldScape I & II the PBS television series has enabled him to teach painting to a vast television audience. Stobart has also educated readers through his several books on maritime painting. His deep enjoyment of working in the landscape genre and his belief in the integrity of plein-air painting have led him to establish the Stobart Foundation, whose mission is to support young painters who are influenced by the history and tradition of the open air painters. Through these many efforts, art lovers around the world can appreciate the art and life of the past through the art of today.