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Post artists go to sea: "the sweetest way to me is a ship's upon the sea," wrote Rudyard Kipling. And those who aren't inclined to hang over the rail with seasickness will likely agree. (The American Illustrators Hall of Fame).

"I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky," John Masefield wrote, and our Post illustrators have had the same urge, except for a different reason--they were looking, for good ideas for cover paintings. There were, for example, the graceful and awe-inspiring ships themselves, so brilliantly portrayed by Anton Otto Fischer, whose 1932 vision of a clipper ship (right) might well have been inspired by further lines from the poet laureate:

"And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by/ And the wheel's kick and the wind's song, and the white sail's shaking/And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking."

But of course, there is far more to the sea than ships, and our landlubbing artists have deftly explored other themes--such as the sound of the sea and salty old seadogs' memories. But their favorite theme of all has been the tenuous relationship between the sea and romance. There's the boy-girl type and the daydreamer's deck chair type. And sometimes the two meet, giving artists leave to explore the double theme of lovesickness and seasickness combined. As for Norman Rockwell's depiction of a young lad leaving his pretty girl for the romance of the sea, the youth might be wise to take the advice of the famous Samuel Johnson on the subject: "No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in jail with the chance of being drowned.... A man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company." But what adventure-seeking young lad worth his salt ever listened to the truth?

Well, at any rate, we promise you smooth sailing on our Illustrators Hall of Fame sea voyage.

"The wind that blows, the ship that goes, and the lass that loves a sailor," wrote the poet Charles Dibdin. As we interpret Norman Rockwell's picture, the poet could be wrong. Or might the lass actually be considering his proposal?



Artist James Williamson takes us to a honeymoon couple who are about to have their ardor dampened by a bucket of sudsy water. Anyway, the couple should have been in their bunks--like their fellow passengers some time ago.

Spring has sprung, and at least two young males are mentally catching tadpoles, while the young lady in the back row seems to have her mind on catching a boy. Our schoolmistress couldn't be bothered with all this, of course, for she's at sea--in the mid-Atlantic, to be precise.


Conch shells excel in bringing in distance. The boy may already be on the coast of China or wherever. Artist John Falter heard the Pacific that way as a boy in Kansas. Falter also once said that conchs make good doorstops, but he was wrong! They tend to creep, which causes the door to go WHAM!



To quote William Hazlitt, "Rules and models destroy genius and art." And, we might add, two old-timers bickering over the validation of a model sailboat can destroy a long-term relationship.


Off they go on a wild blue honeymoon cruise. But not too far before the male member is off to the rail to get rid of his launching luncheon.

Artist Thornton Utz made no mistake in perspective by having the passenger ramp dwindling into nothingness; the boat was built that way. Could an automobile find a worse place to come down with a motor bellyache? Well, yes--the Holland Tunnel.

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Author:Blythe, Samuel G.; Faulkner, William
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:May 1, 2003
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