Francis Augustus Silva

Francis Augustus Silva

Francis Augustus Silva (1835–1886) remains one of America’s most acclaimed marine painters and has been associated with the Luminist style of painting of the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Particularly interested in the optical effects of light and weather on bodies of water and coastlines, Silva traveled across New England, especially along the Hudson River and the coastline from Chesapeake Bay to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, painting marine and harbor views in different conditions, times of day, and seasons. Silva also traveled to Venice, creating marine views and capturing the luminous atmosphere and bustle of its famed harbors. He is famous for his intense Luminism, attention to meticulous descriptive detail, and expressive colorism.

Born in New York City, Silva was first employed as a sign painter. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the New York State Militia, becoming a captain of the Ninth New York Volunteer Infantry, and serving until his honorable discharge in 1866. Soon after the war, Silva began devoting himself to marine painting. This largely self-taught artist made his artistic debut at the National Academy of Design in 1868. He also actively exhibited at the Brooklyn Academy of Art and the American Institute of Art. In 1872, he was elected to the American Watercolor Society.


Francis Augustus Silva (1835–1886) Afternoon on the Beach
Oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 30 1/16 inches
Signed lower left: F.A.SILVA

Image courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art, LLC