Dawson dedicated the majority of his career to the depiction of the tea clippers. With his first hand knowledge of the sea he celebrates their beauty, grace, and speed like no other artist. The Proud Ship is an unnamed vessel and as such is a general tribute to the courage of these majestic ships. Beneath ragged, stormy skies and skimming across mountainous, churning seas, the clipper flies every inch of sail in conditions where most ships would be forced to take in sail. Sailing in this manner would push vessel and crew to the limit but such was the demand and premium for the freshest tea, as well as the prestige that went with winning one of the great tea races.
'The Clippers were a race apart...lean with sharp bows, raked masts and a great cumulus of sail. They raced each other across the world's oceans, their captains were treated like today's superstars and their names became legendary. Fortunes were wagered on the result of races between them, which might last from Hong Kong to London or from New York round the Horn to San Francisco...setting sailing records that would last forever.' (Ron Ransom, The Maritime Paintings of Montague Dawson, 1993.)
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