Francis Augustus Silva USA
8-1835 New York, USA – 1-16-1886 New York, USABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
The Luminist painter Francis Augustus Silva is best known for his poetic, intensely lit scenes of boats and shipwrecks along the East Coast.
Francis Augustus Silva never received formal training as an artist but manifested artistic talent from an early age. At thirteen he exhibited ink drawings at the Annual Fair of the American Institute of the City of New York. He set up his first studio in 1858, but his career as a painter was put on hold when he joined the New York militia and served in the Civil War. In 1868, Silva was discharged from the military. The same year, he married Margaret A. Watts and had his first exhibit at the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association, which marked the start of his painting career.
Throughout most of the 1870s Silva kept a studio in New York City and took frequent painting trips along the East Coast. Francis Augustus Silva developed his brand of dramatically lit, atmospheric Luminism from painting marine subjects at Boston Harbor, Cape Ann, Narragansett Bay, the Hudson River, Boston and especially New York City.
His fondness for harbor views surrounding his native city was evidenced in the boat and shipwreck scenes of Brooklyn and Long Island he exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association exhibitions (1869–1885). Around 1880 Silva moved to Long Branch, New Jersey but kept a studio in the famous Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City. He painted scenes along the New Jersey coasts until his death in 1886.
Francis Augustus Silva carefully constructed compositions are known for their sense of diminishing perspective, in much the same style employed by Fitz Hugh Lane and Martin Johnson Heade. One of his favorite devices was a rowboat with a small figure placed in the foreground, leading the eye back into the picture plane in a gradual progression to the horizon. His paintings are equally known for their sense of tranquillity and a poetic, almost nostalgic quality.
Art Movement: Luminism, Hudson River School