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Located in the heart of the Cumberland Valley in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, Silla has actively collected, conserved and cataloged fine objects since its inception in 2009. While the collection has an emphasis on sculpture from 1860 through 1930, a full range of beautiful objects, furniture and paintings are always on display in our 9000 sq ft downtown gallery.

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"Fishing Boats off the Coast" | John Cheltenham Wake



John Cheltenham Wake (English, fl. 1858-1875)
Oil on canvas | Signed (somewhat illegibly) lower left "Cheltenham Wake"
Item # 105JOL18P 

A scene made dramatic by the power of the sea with its rough waters cresting and rocking the small fishing vessels, the first boat made the primary focus where one man works the sail while the seated fisherman is preparing his net. The fishermen in the larger vessel just beyond this are watching this boat and focus our attention on it while a vast cargo ship passes by in the background. Wake's ability to capture waves is most magnetic, manipulating the light through the water for a full range of hues from dark green to translucent greens and bright yellows as the bright morning sun reflects in the water. The scene is painted in oil on canvas and is signed lower left in a somewhat rubbed out signature "Cheltenham Wake". It is housed in an early giltwood frame.

Little is recorded about Wake's life, but he is believed to have been born in Middlesex, England in 1837. He exhibited extensively, recorded as presenting at least 3 works at the British Institute of London, 7 at Suffolk Street and 3 at various London exhibitions. He left behind a large body of work mostly centered around coastal life and maritime scenes, though he also painted cityscapes throughout Europe including Antwerp, Cologne, Heidelberg and Calais. These are cherished for their dramatic compositions with an air of the Romantic in the exquisite detailing of the translucent water, complex figure arrangements and vivid representations of the vessels. One such painting is his 1882 seascape "Landing the Catch" held in the permanent collection of the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • The Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Christopher Wood
  • A Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions From 1760-1893, Algernon Graves

Measurements: 24 1/8" H X 36 1/8" W [canvas]; 29 7/8" H x 41 7/8" W [frame]

Condition Report:
Wax lined on original stretcher bars. Light surface craquelure throughout. Surface is bright and remains in good condition throughout with only minor rubbing to the extreme edges. Probably cleaned in the last twenty years and remaining a good clear varnish throughout. Under UV examination, two old repairs with associated inpainting: to left of small boat where nets float in the water 1" x 3/8", to water beneath the bowsprit 3/4" x 5/8"; overpainting throughout the leftmost cloud, repair above leftmost cloud in blue sky along with associated inpainting, horizontal area of inpainting at the horizon just over the water far left approx. 7" x 1/2"; other extensive inpainting in the sky, some of which is intended to stabilize craquelure. Remaining in excellent presentation-ready condition with a firm and stable canvas. Giltwood frame worn and chipped.