John Stobart, one of the world’s most renowned maritime artists, died on March 2. He was 93.  

He is survived by his wife Anne, whose devotion to the man and his career was unbounded; his three children with his now-deceased first wife Kay Stobart: Diana Wild, Elizabeth Stobart and Bill Stobart; son in law Fred Wild and daughter in law Sherry Stobart; grandchildren Sam, Lilly and Zoe, and great-grandchildren Layana, Lucas and Reggie.

He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and the countless people around the world who admired his work and were touched by his kindness.

Born in Leicester, England, John was surrounded by beautiful countryside and developed an early appreciation for the landscape. At the age of eight, he visited his grandmother’s northern home and made an excursion to Liverpool which was, at the time, the busiest port in England. This sparked his lifelong desire to capture the excitement of world trade that comes to life in a port. He would go on to study at the Derby College of Art and the Royal Academy in London, where he developed his skills in composition and perspective.

His passion for the sea and ships grew and led him to pursue a career in maritime art. Shortly after completing his service in the Royal Air Force, his father gifted him with a ticket for his first ocean voyage, on a ship destined for Cape Town, South Africa. The adventure provided the young artist with a detailed understanding of how ships and ports function on a daily basis. 

Around this time he first had the idea that British shipping companies might be interested in paintings of their ships in exotic port cities. This idea laid the foundation for his entire body of work.

By the early 1960s, shipping companies were commissioning his work and sponsoring his travel overseas. On a train ride from Toronto to New York City, he unknowingly befriended Donald Holden, the editor of American Artist Magazine. That unlikely meeting led him to Kennedy Galleries, which hosted his first solo exhibition in 1967.

He became known for his meticulous attention to detail and ability to capture the atmosphere and mood of historic ports. He quickly gained a reputation as one of the best in his field, and was soon exhibiting in galleries throughout North America and Europe.

John believed to his core that the U.S. was the best country in the world. But He never lost his English accent, and he would “pour it on” anytime he got into a scrape, John knew he belonged in the U.S., but he never lost his love of Mother England. He remained a British Citizen until his death.

Having emigrated to Canada in 1955, John began his family with his first wife, Kay, in England where their children could get some influence of English ways. They spent winters in Canada where John could pursue professional opportunities in there and in the U.S.  

In 1970, he emigrated to the U.S. and settled in the coastal town of Darien, Conn. While the family was living in the Washington, D.C. area, he established the Atlantic Gallery near his Georgetown studio. He continued to produce stunning works, often featuring views of iconic locations such as the Boston harbor, New York harbor, San Francisco Bay and many others.

While he enjoyed making his ships and structures historically precise, he could not hold back his deep love for friends and family. He consistently renamed dinghies and portside shops after those who meant the most to him.

His later works are also fondly known for their inclusion of a well-hidden wine bottle. He routinely told of the time his son Bill exclaimed that a supposedly-completed painting was incomplete as his father forgot the bottle. John had not realized Bill was paying such close attention and from then on, it became their little game. Though these details are subtle, they are incredibly meaningful and a testament to the kind of person John Stobart was.

In 1978, John played a pivotal role as one of the founding members and vice president of the American Society of Marine Arts (ASMA), a distinguished organization dedicated to acknowledging, fostering and advancing the field of marine art and maritime history. Through its various initiatives, ASMA aims to promote collaboration and open dialogue among artists, art teachers, art students, publishers and other individuals engaged in creative pursuits pertaining to marine art and the rich history surrounding it.

Over the course of his career, he received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the art world; among them was his election to the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York and the Royal Society of Marine Artists in 1979.

During the 1990s, the government of Bermuda acknowledged him with the Order of Merit for his impact on the island’s maritime heritage. In 1997, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Marine Maritime Academy and the American Society of Marine Artists presented him with the Award of Excellence, the society’s highest honor. In 2008, he returned home to Derby, United Kingdom, where he was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from the University of Derby.

John was a generous philanthropist. He established the Stobart Foundation to support recently-graduated artists in their transition to becoming professional artists – particularly those who were influenced by the history and tradition of plein-air painters. His goal was to offer an environment of support and provide financial assistance at a time when artists’ energies and resources are at their lowest point. Despite his overwhelming success, he remained humble and approachable, and he was widely admired for his generosity.

In the spirit of plein-air, John created John Stobart’s WorldScape in 1993. Here other artists and viewers could accompany John in person to locations locally and in Europe to create paintings. Often a guest artist painted the same scene in tandem. The series originally aired on PBS and can now be viewed on YouTube.

From 1982 to 1997, he spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard in a house he designed and built near Cow Bay in Edgartown. He also designed and built the John Stobart Gallery, formerly at 31 North Summer street in Edgartown, where he showed his work for many years. His desire to depict the whaling era figured prominently in his paintings, and so having galleries on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket was particularly fitting.

John Stobart’s legacy will live on through his paintings, which will continue to inspire artists and captivate audiences for generations to come, as well as through the works of the Stobart Foundation recipients.

Memorial donations may be made to The Stobart Foundation at