Although Arthur Beaumont was not an American citizen by birth, he felt deep love and respect for his adopted country. His classical training as an artist and his fascination with the sea and the vessels which sail upon her led Beaumont into an association with the U.S. Navy which lasted nearly five decades. The relationship began in the early 1930s, when he was commissioned to paint formal portraits of several Naval Officers, including Admiral William D. Leahy. Leahy suggested that Beaumont paint studies of the Fleet for the Navy. At once Beaumont recognized the opportunity to record history and to create fine works of art simultaneously, as Henry Reuterdahl (1870-1925) had done for the Navy during World War I. Thus his art acquired purpose and meaning, allowing him to express creatively the patriotism evoked by his adopted land. In 1933 Arthur Beaumont received his commission as a lieutenant in the United States Navy and was appointed as the official artist of the United States Fleet. He served in an official capacity and as a freelance artist for the Navy until his death 45 years later, in 1978.
My early memories of my father are crowded with the events surrounding the conclusion of World War II. Through the eyes of an eight year old boy, in 1945, I witnessed the return of the victorious U.S. Pacific Fleet to its home bases in California, and I was thrilled to accompany my father as he responded to the countless invitations by captains and admirals to visit their commands. Beau would invariably spend two or three hours on the dock sketching the ever-changing Navy scenes. The working conditions were frequently difficult. Apart from the occasional inclement weather, the undertaking always attracted a crowd of admirers. The assemblage watched in amazement at the speed with which he would complete a fine watercolor sketch of a great Iowa class battleship or an equally impressive Essex class aircraft carrier, many of which had just recently survived the constant risk of a Kamikaze attack. The turmoil of the noisy shipyard activities made it difficult to sustain concentration, yet the result was an exciting stream of "plein air" works of art...Read more