Art exhibit of original naval paintings to visit Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

SANTA BARBARA—An exhibit of 53 paintings chronicling the accomplishments of the US Navy will be on display at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum for the next six months. The exhibit, Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea, features a collection of paintings by Arthur Beaumont, who served as the Navy’s “Artist of the Fleet” and documented various naval events.

The exhibit was set to debut Dec. 3 but as of the time this paper went to press, the museum remained closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. The exhibit will be on display through May 30, 2021.

In addition to Beaumont’s paintings, the show will be accompanied by a book of his life and art, also entitled Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea, written by Beaumont’s son Geoffrey Campbell Beaumont and published by The Irvine Museum. On January 21, 2021, the author will offer a presentation about the exhibit and his father’s life as part of SBMM’s distinguished lecture series.

Beaumont received a commission as a lieutenant in the Navy and became the “Artist of the Fleet” in 1933. His earliest paintings showed naval vessels in various settings and states of preparedness, but following Pearl Harbor, his work supported the US war effort and reflected life or death struggles in the Pacific and, in 1944, he was given the official title of War Correspondent.

Following the end of World War II, Beaumont became the official artist for Operation Crossroads, documenting the Navy’s first tests of the nuclear bomb, and continued to travel with and paint for the US Navy on missions to China and Japan. In addition to his work during the Korean War, in the production of movies, in private commissions and personal painting, Beaumont accepted three assignments from the Navy in the 1950s and 60s to paint frozen landscapes in Alaska and Antarctica. Over the remaining years of his life, he painted the RMS Queen Mary as it arrived in Los Angeles, a series of Revolutionary War-era sailing vessels, portraits of prominent naval officers, and operations along the Mekong River during the Vietnam War.

For more information on the exhibit and updates on the museum’s operational status visit

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