Archive of Works
by Derek Gardner
HBM 74 gun ship-of-the-line THUNDERER
Watercolour, 10 x 16 inches
Derek Gardner in his studio working on the painting of the Destroyer,
Broke, the ship in which he served in 1939.
was born in 1914 and after leaving school in 1931 he studied to
become a civil engineer.
He received no formal art training but had a lifelong interest
in all matters relating to ships and the sea; an interest which
sprang from earlier days in Glasgow where his father was the Chief
Engineer of the Port of Glasgow and the Clyde Navigation Trust.
In his younger days he read Southey's Life of Nelson which sparked
what was to become a lifelong interest in the broad scope of naval
history, particularly the French wars of the 18th and early 19th
HBM 12-gun cutter TRIAL launched Plymouth 1790 served until 1813
Watercolour 9¼ x 13¼ inches
In 1934 he joined the Clyde
Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and later served throughout
the war in the Royal Navy. In 1942 he was mentioned in dispatches
for distinguished service when the destroyer "Broke" was
sunk in the Mediterranean. He retired from the Navy in 1947 with
the rank of Commander and resumed his career as a chartered civil
engineer working for the Colonial Service in Kenya.
Racing clippers: Flying Fish and Wild Pigeon 1852
Oil on panel 6¼ x 9½ inches
Whilst in Kenya, he devoted
much of his spare time to painting in both oil and watercolour,
working on both landscape and maritime works, some of which were
submitted for exhibition. In 1963 with the onset of his deafness
he was forced to retire from the Colonial Service. Returning to
England and an uncertain future, he began a new career as an artist,
concentrating on the paintings of maritime history for which he
has become so well known today.
The 16 gun sloop ZEBRA
Watercolour 4¼ x 7½ inches
He was elected to membership
of the Royal Society of Marine Artists in 1966 and, in both 1982
and 1984 he was a finalist in the Hunting Group Art Prizes organised
by the Federation of British Artists. In 1988 the Royal Society
of Marine Artists accorded him the unusual honour of electing him
to be an Honorary Vice President for life.
HBM “ISIS”, 50 guns, sighting the Dutch “Rotterdam”
in the Channel 31 December 1779
Watercolour 10 x 15 inches
He came to international notice
from 1968 when he began exhibiting at the Polak Gallery in London.
A series of seven highly successful one-man exhibitions took place
at the Polak Gallery in 1972, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1987, 1990 and 1995,
each accompanied by a splendid catalogue where Derek documented
all the works on display. The gallery location in central London
meant that the Gardner paintings were finding a large enthusiastic
audience from all parts of the world, most notably in the USA.
HBM 38 gun frigate UNDAUNTED
Watercolour, 5½ x 8½ inches
Although Derek was dedicated
to his art his output was not particularly prolific; his method
of working meant that each painting was the product of many weeks
of research, design and painting, meaning that there were long gaps
between the exhibitions and hungry collectors eagerly awaiting the
new output at each event. His last London exhibition in 2005 –
after a gap of 10 years - was on the theme of Nelson's ships,
a major exhibition celebrating the Bicentenary of the Battle of
The 28-gun frigate "Boreas", launched 1774.
Commanded by Captain Horatio Nelson from March 1784 to November
Watercolour, 10 x 14 inches
Today Derek Gardner is considered to be one of the leading maritime artists of his era. He received many accolades for his work and won admiration of collectors and maritime experts for his ability to portray ships with great accuracy while conveying the colour, the luminosity and all the drama of the wind and sea:
“Derek's work combines marvellous seascapes with accurate ships, carefully researched and meticulously rendered…yet such accuracy is merely a bonus, for the pictures appeal for their very composition – for the movement of the clouds, the look of the sea in all its motion, and for all the play of light and shadow”
- Alex. Hurst, who wrote a number of articles on Derek Gardner and was author of several books including The Maritime History of theWorld and Thomas Somerscales : Marine Artist : His Life and Work
“This is wonderful stuff! He (Derek Gardner) handles many things well, but one notable thing is the effect of wind ruffling across the surface of the sail that is just on the edge of lifting or luffing. This makes me think he must be accustomed to knocking about under sail… one feels that it could come only out of experience; photos don't catch the effect and neither do most marine artists.
The great thing is the way the ships sit in the water and the lovely effects of light at sea. All just great stuff!...” - Peter Stanford, President of the National Maritime Historical Society, USA
Derek Gardner's work is in a number of public collections including the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, the museums in Bermuda and Tenerife and in many private collections worldwide.
The Emigrant Ship, "Morayshire"
Oil on panel 10 x 16 inches
The China Clipper "Ariel"
Oil on panel 18 x 24 inches
| Derek Gardner's work has appeared in the following
· Tall Ships by Gareth Rees
· Dictionary of Sea Painters Antique Collectors Club
· The Windjammers by Oliver Allen Time Life Books,
· 20th Century British Maritime Painting by Denys Brook-Hart
· Maler der See Peter Tamm and Others Koehler, 1980
· The Passage Makers by Michael Stammers Teredo Books,
· The Maritime History of the World by Duncan Haws and
Alex Hurst Teredo Books,1985
· Sea History Magazine, Winter 1990
· Charleston's Maritime Heritage, 1670 – 1865
· An Illustrated History by P C Coker III Cokercraft
· Architectural Digest – Feature on the collection
of Tom Selleck
· Longitude, 1990, colour illustrations with text by Alex
Hurst. Carlstedt Forlag AB Stockholm
· A Celebration of Marine Art. 50 years of the Royal Society
of Marine Artists. R.S.M.A , 1996
· The Tall Ship in Art Blandford, 1998
· Nelson's Ships: A Trafalgar Tribute Antique
Collectors Club 2005
See also Paintings
for Sale by Derek Gardner
Unloading merchantmen, Woolwich Reach 1955
Oil on panel 7 3/8 x 11 inches
& Prints by