Charles Hemy was one of the finest marine artists of the late Victorian/Edwardian period and ‘Life’ was one of his most famous paintings. It is certainly very evocative to anyone who has experienced small boat sailing, especially in the days of timber hulls, hemp rigging, and canvas sails.
Hemy spent many years of his early life in a Dominican Priory and remained very religious throughout his life. He also had a very unreconstructed attitude to women, even for the time, and wrote: “Women are useless as painters, writers, musicians, doctors as they would be as engineers, sailors or soldiers. A woman is only a success, can only be a success doing her proper work in her proper place”.
Nevertheless his grandaughter, the successful writer Margaret Powell, has written a well illustrated and illuminating biography:
Master of the Sea: Charles Napier Hemy RA, RWS.