Exhibition

In American Waters

On view May 29, 2021 to October 3, 2021

For over 200 years, artists have been inspired to capture the beauty, violence, poetry and transformative power of the sea in American life. Oceans play a key role in American society no matter where we live, and the sea continues to inspire painters today to capture its mystery and power.

In American Waters reveals that marine painting is so much more than ship portraits. In this exhibition, visitors will also discover the sea as an expansive way to reflect on American culture and environment, learn how coastal and maritime symbols moved inland across the United States, and question what it means to be “in American waters.” Be transported across time and water on the wave of a diverse range of modern and historical artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Amy Sherald, Kay WalkingStick, Norman Rockwell, Hale Woodruff, Paul Cadmus, Thomas Hart Benton, Jacob Lawrence, Valerie Hegarty, Stuart Davis, and many others.

In American Waters is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

National Endowment for the Arts


We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Ulf B. Heide, Angus and Leslie Littlejohn, Sam and Tracey Byrne, Lee Campbell Jr., Chip and Susan Robie, Tim and Joanie Ingraham, the Salem Marine Society, Fiduciary Trust Company, Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus R. Gillespie, Mr. and Mrs. William J. Kneisel, Mr. and Mrs. Stuart W. Pratt, Abby and Gene Record, Mr. and Mrs. Ernst H. von Metzsch, Connie and Stan Grayson, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen S. Lash, and Amanda Clark MacMullan for their generous support, and to Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O’Neil, and Henry and Callie Brauer for their ongoing exhibition support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.


TOP IMAGE: Michele Felice Cornè, Ship America on the Grand Banks, about 1799. Oil on canvas. M8257. Peabody Essex Museum.