Robert McGreevy of Harbor Beach was recently honored at a reception held by the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio, for his nineteenth-century style of marine artwork, which is being displayed in an exhibit composed of paintings from renowned nineteenth-century artists. McGreevy’s work will be showcased next to nineteenth-century greats who have set the gold standard in creating marine art, including Howard Freeman Sprague (1871-1899); Seth Arca Whipple (1855-1901); and Vincent D. Nickerson (1844-1910).
The Great Lakes Historical Society outgrew their old facility and opened the National Museum of the Great Lakes last year. It is the newest and likely most lavish Great Lakes museum in the Great Lakes area. They have an impressive collection of nineteenth-century artwork and plan to run the exhibit through March, though tentative plans are already in the works to extend it.
The National Museum chose two of McGreevy’s paintings because his work best carries on this nineteenth-century style to the present day. The paintings by McGreevy chosen by the National Museum reflect representations of passenger ships: The Atlantic was one of the earliest passenger ships on the Great Lakes, while the Greater Detroit was one of the last of the passenger ships that worked the Lakes.
McGreevy’s paintings best represent how nineteenth-century artists would have done them if they were painting them. “That’s always been my goal. I’ve always tried to authentically capture the scene and the era I’m depicting.”
How does McGreevy feel about having his work displayed next to renowned marine artists like Sprague, Whipple and Nickerson? “This is a real honor for me – it means I’ve succeeded,” says McGreevy.
“Their work influenced what I did, and their work had a romantic appeal; I think the reason is they didn’t rely on photography,” explains McGreevy. “They had to rely on their own observation because some of their work was created before the days of photography. They had to go into the elements; they had to go to their subject. Early artists didn’t have photography as a tool, or they probably would have used it. I think that’s what sets their work apart from many painters today who stay in their studio and paint from photographs. I think that’s where the fine difference can be detected.”
McGreevy can often be found in his studio with palette in hand, but since he can’t go to his subjects since many of these ships no longer exist nor does he use photographs to paint from, how has he succeeded to such a degree that his artwork is featured in the same exhibit as these famed nineteenth-century artists?
“I use my imagination to recreate a specific scene or time in history. The painting style of these artists has influenced what I’ve done, and I’d like to think if an exhibit of marine art in 1900 included my paintings, they wouldn’t look out of place,” adds McGreevy.
For McGreevy, being recognized by the National Museum and having his nineteenth-century style of artwork included in this exhibit is a lifetime achievement, one he will continue to savor as he wields his paintbrush, breathing life into the most magnificent ships that sailed on the Great Lakes.
The Lakeshore Guardian congratulates Robert McGreevy for receiving this well deserved honor and thanks him for his continued commitment to protecting and preserving the rich history of the Great Lakes through his marine artwork. Congratulations!
You may visit the National Museum of the Great Lakes at 1701 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio, 43605. For more information about the Museum, visit www.inlandseas.org, or call 419-214-5000. For more information about Robert McGreevy, please visit www.mcgreevy.com.