American painter Francis Augustus Silva is known as a second generation member of the Hudson River school, but also as an artist who effectively uses the technique known as "Luminism" to deliver remarkable and delicate atmospheric effects to his many marine paintings.
He was born in New York in 1886, and though he demonstrated artistic skill and talent, his parents did not want him to pursue a career in art. He was apprenticed to several different trades, and finally became a sign painter. He would also decorate fire wagons, vans and stagecoaches before entering into service in the American Civil War in 1861.
He would serve for the duration of the war, even after a bout of malaria, a mistaken charge of desertion, a dishonorable discharge, reinstatement, and finally an honorable discharge in 1865.
He returned to New York and began his career as a professional artist at that time. He exhibited for the first time in 1868 at the National Academy of Design's annual show. He immediately received a great deal of positive attention, and would be able to maintain a studio for his work.
His work would initially rely on the Realist techniques of the Hudson River painters, but eventually Silva introduced elements of Impressionism into his paintings, as well as the use of Luminism for its effectiveness of capturing and using light on water, sea, clouds or mist to give a painting a specific mood.
He was elected as a member of the American Water Color Society in 1872, and his paintings are in the collections of many major American museums, including the Brooklyn Museum and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.