An eccentric man, who lived for many years in a wharf shack in Boston, English marine painter Robert Salmon is also credited with introducing "Luminism" into the American art world.
Though he chose to live in a radically unusual manner, his canvases were sought out by prominent and wealthy Bostonians, including Samuel Cabot, Robert Forbes and J.P. Cushing.
He had been born in England in 1775 and growing up in the port town of Maryport and Whitehaven inspired him to capture scenes from his environment. Additionally, he spent a great deal of time in Liverpool and Greenock, both areas known for their ship building activities, which would account for Salmon's abilities to accurately render even the finest details of sea vessels.
In 1828 he immigrated to the United States and settled immediately in Boston. He maintained only a small shack for a home and studio, but his works were immediately popular. During this time he would accept commissions and paint canvases of his own design. It is estimated that almost half of his life's work was done during his time in Boston, with between three and four hundred canvases dating to this period. (Rough estimates calculate approximately nine hundred canvases were completed during his lifetime).
His style of precise detail and formality were sought out by collectors, sea merchants and wealthy Bostonians. Additionally, his use of light reflecting on water, mist and clouds introduced the concept of Luminism into the American art culture, affecting the works of later painters such as Fitz Henry Lane.
In addition to his canvases, Salmon took work creating theatrical scenery and panoramas, including curtains in Boston's Federal Street Theater.
When his vision began to fail around 1840, Salmon staged a major auction of his work and left in 1842. He headed back to England, where his date of death is unknown, though estimated to have taken place at some point after 1845.
His work is in the collections of dozens of museums including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut among many others.