"On the Waterfront: Washington DC in 1899"
Oil on canvas, 24x36". This painting depicts the waterfront in Southwest Washington DC in 1899. The artist based this view on exhaustive research with old maps, old prints, and old photos, from sources such as museums, state historical societies, and The Library of Congress. In 1899 the waterfront was lined with businesses such as The Norfolk & Washington Steamboat Co., The American Oyster Company, and the Alexandria Ferry. There were lumbar yards, ice houses, a firehouse and a morgue. Currently, the waterfront is lined with marinas, seafood restaurants, condos, and offices. The capitol building is in the center distance, and the newly completed Library of Congress dome is in the distance at right.
The Battle of Trafalgar
Oil on canvas, 24x40", 2017. The Battle of Trafalgar was the most famous sea battle of the age of sail. England’s greatest naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson, commanded the British fleet from the deck of HMS Victory. By winning the battle, Lord Nelson foiled Napoleon’s plan to invade England. Lord Nelson was legendary for his bravery in battle, but he bore the scars of his many victories—his right arm had been cut off and he was blind in one eye. In October of 1805, off Cape Trafalgar, Spain, Nelson and his fleet of 27 ships spotted the 33 men-o-war of the French and Spanish. The enemy ships were lined up one behind the other, with their hundreds of cannons facing the approaching British. But Nelson had a daring and unorthodox plan. Instead of lining up opposite the enemy ships in a line-of-battle, Nelson’s fleet charged directly toward the enemy, and broke their line. During this moment of his greatest glory, Lord Nelson was shot down by a French musket ball. But when the smoke of battle had cleared, Napoleon’s navy was in shambles. Nelson’s body was returned home in a cask of brandy to a hero’s funeral.
Alexandria in 1755; General Braddock
Oil on canvas, 24x36" In 1755, Alexandria was a small hamlet situated atop high bluffs, which formed a crescent shaped bay on the Potomac River. The north point of this bay, West’s Point, is the foot of present day Oronoco Street, and the south point, Point Lumley, is the foot of present day Duke Street. West’s Point. This bay would be filled in (a process called “banking out”) to create the land and straight waterfront of the current lower portion of Old Town Alexandria (including The Icon Galeria) sometime after 1759. This painting depicts the beginning of the French and Indian War, as British troops of the 48th Regiment of Foot under General Braddock arrive at West’s Point. These troops would then march inland towards Ohio Country (current-day western Pennsylvania and the state of Ohio), where they would attack the French troops and their Indian allies, thus beginning what some historians claim to be the first true World War. The conflict that led to this painting’s events began in 1753, when French troops began building forts along Allegheny River in an effort to stop the British in Virginia and Pennsylvania from expanding westward into Ohio Country. Ohio Country was home to Indian tribes and some trappers and traders, but both the French and British claimed this land for themselves. The new French forts angered both the British in North America and in Great Britain; after skirmishes between French and Virginian troops, Britain sent General Braddock and his troops across the Atlantic in an effort to quell the French threat.
The Battle of the Chesapeake
Oil on canvas, 24x36" The Battle of the Chesapeake Bay was one of the decisive turning points in American history. The British navy’s loss of this battle allowed General George Washington to defeat the British at Yorktown, thereby ending the American Revolution. The battle took place just outside the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on September 5, 1781, between a British and French fleet. For two and a half hours the fleets traded broadsides. Neither fleet was decisively defeated, but the French won the day by denying the British entrance into the Bay., and thus forcing the British to surrender to General Washington. In the painting, the British and French lines are sailing opposite each other in the traditional “line of battle.” The British line on the right and the French line on the left.
Young America Rounding Cape Horn
Oil on canvas, 18x24" Young America was built for speed. She was a clipper ship, a new breed of sailing ship that raced across oceans in record times, delivering cargoes such as tea from China and grain from Australia. Built in New York in 1853, Young America was an extreme clipper, which meant that she was built with a sharp bow that sacrificed cargo space for speed. The painting depicts Young America as she rounds Cape Horn on her way from New York to San Francisco in 1854. Her captain is taking a bit of a risk sailing so close to the rocky shores of the Horn itself, but with a rare mild wind from the Northeast, and a competitor close on his heels, he is trying to shave some miles off the trip.
The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, 2013
Oil on canvas, 16x20" The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race is an annual event, begun in 1990, in which about a dozen schooners from around the world gather to race down the Bay from Annapolis to Norfolk. A schooner is a specific type of sailing vessel, with fore-and-aft mainsails, usually on two masts. Built for speed, schooners were a common type of vessel in the age of sail. The painting depicts the Virginia, a replica of a historic pilot schooner from the early 20th century, and The Pride of Baltimore, a replica of a kind of topsail-schooner called a Baltimore clipper. Originating in the shipyards of Baltimore, MD, these vessels were commonly used in the early 19th century by the navy, pirates and privateers.
"USS Constitution vs HMS Java" SOLD
Oil on canvas The USS Constitution was built in Boston, MA in 1797. She was one of the first of the original six frigates that made up the U.S. Navy. She carried 44 guns and a crew of more than 450. During the War of 1812, the Constitution won several important victories over the British, demonstrating that the new American Navy could stand up to the greatest sea power in the world. This painting depicts her second victory—over HMS Java, a frigate of 38 guns. The Constitution encountered the Java about 30 miles off the coast of Brazil on December 29, 1812. The Constitution’s captain, Commodore William Bainbridge, maneuvered for position and opened fire from about a half a mile away. The two ships traded broadsides, and the Java had the better of it at first, but after three and a half hours, the Constitution’s overwhelming firepower and superior gunnery had reduced the Java to a hulk, her masts shot away and her captain mortally wounded. The Java was too badly damaged to be saved, so after taking the remaining British sailors as prisoners, and taking the ship’s wheel to replace his own shattered wheel, Commodore Bainbridge burned and sank the British ship. The Constitution returned to Boston, where there was great rejoicing over the victory. Bainbridge and the crew were awarded medals and prize money in recognition of their spectacular triumph over the Royal Navy.
"The Royal Navy at Alexandria, VA During the War of 1812" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 24x40". As part of the British expedition to the Chesapeake Bay in 1814, a naval force sailed up the Potomac River and laid siege to Alexandria. Seven British warships anchored in a line along the whole length of the town, armed with cannons, mortars, and Congreve rockets. Just four days earlier, the British had attached and burned Washington, D.C. Alexandria was defenseless, and to avoid destruction, the town agreed to hand over tons of merchandise such as tobacco, cotton, flour, and wine, as well as all its merchant ships, including those which had been sunk to prevent them from being captured. The British ships seen in this painting would weigh anchor after five days and sail up to Baltimore, where they attacked Fort McHenry. HMS Meteor, seen here, and HMS Erebus shot the rockets and bombs that inspired Francis Scott Key, in part, to write the national anthem (“rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air). The painting is based on extensive historical and nautical research, and is as accurate as possible in all respects.
"Alexandria, 1895" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 24x36". This painting depicts the waterfront of Alexandria, Virginia in 1895. The artist based this view on extensive research with old maps, prints and photographs, as well as his background knowledge of ships and historic ports. The viewpoint is from near the end of a pier at the foot of Duke Street, looking north toward Washington DC. The prominent buildings are on the waterfront between Prince, King and Cameron Streets. The boat in the foreground is a skipjack, one of the famous oyster boats of the Chesapeake Bay. The steamboat Young America is coming in to dock near the foot of King Street, while a small steam launch carries a few well-heeled passengers on an excursion, perhaps downriver to Mount Vernon.
"The Battle of Trafalgar" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 24x36" The Battle of Trafalgar was perhaps the most famous sea battle ever fought. England’s greatest naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson, commanded England’s most famous warship, HMS Victory. Nelson’s victory against the French/Spanish fleet foiled Napoleon’s plan to invade England. Lord Nelson was legendary in England for his bravery in battle, but he bore the scars of his many victories- his right arm had been cut off, and he was blind in one eye. In October of 1805, off Cape Trafalgar in Spain, Nelson and his fleet of 27 ships spotted the enemy’s 33 men-o-war. The enemy ships were lined up one behind the other, with their hundreds of cannons facing the approaching British. But Nelson had a daring and unorthodox plan. Instead of lining up opposite the enemy ships and firing away in the standard line-of-battle, Nelson’s fleet charged directly toward the enemy, breaking the line in what was known as “the Nelson touch.” During this moment of his greatest glory, Nelson was shot down by a French sharp-shooter. But when the smoke of battle had cleared, Napoleon’s navy was in shambles. Nelson’s body was returned home in a cask of brandy to a hero’s funeral. The painting depicts the moments before the British fleet crosses the enemy line. The leading two ships of the British fleet are approaching from the right, with HMS Victory leading HMS Temeraire. The French and Spanish line approaches from the left background. In the foreground is the gigantic Spanish ship Santisima Trinidad, with 136 guns, the most guns ever carried during the age of sail.
"The Battle of Lake Erie" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 24x36" The Battle of Lake Erie was fought on September 10, 1813. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry's decisive victory over the British fleet ensured American control of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. During the battle, Perry flew his famous flag which read "Don’t Give Up the Ship." The nine vessels of the American fleet were outweighed and outgunned by the six ships of the British fleet. Commodore Perry's flagship was destroyed in the course of the battle with most of its crew killed or wounded. However, Perry got into a boat and was rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to transfer his command, and his flag, to the USS Niagara. He sailed Niagara into close action, broke the British battle line, and forced the British to surrender. After the battle, Perry sent his famous message "We have met the enemy and they are ours." The painting depicts the Niagara charging into battle, with the British ships Detroit and Queen Charlotte behind her. The two British ships will collide a few moments after this, and Niagara will pound them into submission.
"New York Harbor, 1910" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 24x30" Two cutter yachts are enjoying a brisk wind in New York harbor in the first decade of the twentieth century. Ellis Island is visible in the background at the right, with its recently completed Immigration Station designed in the grand Beaux-Arts style. The Statue of Liberty, at left, was about 25 years old at this point. A steamboat carrying tourists from the Statue is at the far right, a steam tug is at left, and a harbor ferry is in the far distance at the far left.
"A Friendly Race: USS Constitution in the Caribbean, 1799" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 24x36" The USS Constitution was built in Boston in 1797. She carried 54 guns and a crew of more than 450. She earned her fame in The War of 1812, when she won three celebrated victories over the British, demonstrating that the new American Navy could stand up to the greatest sea power in the world. She was nicknamed Old Ironsides when British cannonballs were seen to bounce off her hard oak hull. This painting depicts a little known event in her long career. While stationed in the Caribbean in 1799, a ship was sighted which turned out to a British frigate. This was a time of peace with England. The English captain came on board. He expressed great admiration for the ship, but declared that his own ship was faster. He offered to bet a cask of Madeira on a trial of speed. The two commanders dined together and arranged the race for the following day. The contest began at dawn upon the firing of a gun. At the end of the day the British ship was left far behind. Just after dark, the English captain was rowed over to the American ship, a large cask of Madeira in the boat with him.
"The Battle of Flamborough Head, 1779" SOLD
Oil on canvas This painting depicts John Paul Jones’ most famous battle. It took place during the American Revolution, on the night of September 23, 1779, off the coast of England near a headland called Flamborough Head. A small American Continental Navy squadron led by John Paul Jones met two British escort vessels protecting a large merchant convoy. Jones’ Bonhomme Richard battled furiously with the British Serapis. Both ships were severely damaged, until finally the British surrendered. Jones transferred his command to the Serapis as the wounded Bonhomme Richard sank beneath the waves. In the painting, the Serapis (center) and the Bonhomme Richard (left) are each on fire as they bash each other with broadsides. Meanwhile, the American Alliance (at right) for reasons still unexplained, fires at both of them.
"USS Constitution vs HMS Cyane and HMS Levant" SOLD
Oil on canvas, 9x12" The USS Constitution was built in Boston in 1797. She was one of the first of the original six frigates that made up the new U.S. Navy. She carried 54 guns and a crew of more than 450. During the War of 1812, the Constitution won three celebrated victories over the British, demonstrating that the new American Navy could stand up to the greatest sea power in the world. She was nicknamed Old Ironsides by her crew when British cannonballs were seen to bounce off her hard oak hull. On the hunt for British warships in the Atlantic Ocean near Madeira, Constitution encountered the British sloops-of-war Cyane and Levant on February 20, 1815. The War of 1812 had been officially over for a few days, but neither side had yet learned of the treaty. Constitution was much larger than either the Cyane or Levant. The combined broadsides of the two British vessels was about equal to Constitution's, but the American cannons had a longer range than the British cannonades. The battle began as the sun was going down. After about five hours of furious gunfire and careful maneuvering, Constitution had captured the British vessels. The painting depicts the opening salvos of the battle. Constitution and Levant trade broadsides, while Cyane in the background attempts to sail into action.
The Great Bridge, 1881
The painting depicts the Brooklyn Bridge during its construction in 1881, looking across the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The bridge is about two years from completion. The floor beams of the span are being suspended from the cables. In its early days, the bridge was often referred to as simply “the great bridge.” The elaborate Victorian building in the foreground is the Fulton Ferry Terminal in Brooklyn. It has since been demolished. The row of buildings in the close foreground is still there, on Old Fulton Street. A ferry boat is seen crossing the river from Manhattan. The current South Street Seaport is just off the canvas on the left.
Patrick O’Brien is an award-winning artist whose striking paintings depict the classic age of fighting sail. An illustrator and painter since the 1980‘s, O’Brien entered the marine art field in 2003. His first entry to the prestigious Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition won an Award of Excellence.
In 2010 he won Mystic’s Museum Purchase Award, which means that Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut bought his painting for its permanent collection. In 2012, The National Maritime Historical Society awarded O’Brien with their Distinguished Service Award at a gala dinner in Washington DC.
O’Brien has had one-man-shows of his artwork in New York City, Annapolis, MD and Portsmouth VA. In 2010 the U.S. Naval Academy Museum mounted a retrospective exhibition entitled 'The Maritime Art of Patrick O’Brien' featuring twenty-eight paintings by the artist.
O’Brien’s paintings have been featured several times on the cover of Naval History magazine, published by the U.S. Naval Institute, and several times on the cover of Sea History magazine, published by the National Maritime Historical Society. Patrick has written and illustrated thirteen children's books.
Patrick O'Brien has been an illustrator and painter since 1985, working with such clients as National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, The Smithsonian, and the U.S. Naval Institute.
- Distinguished Service Award
- awarded by the National Maritime Historical Society for O'Brien's body of artwork
- Museum Purchase Award
- Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT
- Award of Excellence
- Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition, Mystic, CT
- The Maritime Art of Patrick O'Brien
- The U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, MD
- Space, Swords & Dinosaurs: The Creation of Art for Children's Books: The Artwork of Patrick O'Brien
- The Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD
- The Age of Sail
- Annapolis Marine Art Gallery, Annapolis, MD
- New York in the Age of Sail
- The Union League Club, New York, NY
- The Civil War at Sea
- Skipjack Nautical Wares and Marine Art Gallery, Portsmouth, VA
- The Annual Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition
- Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
- Modern Marine Masters
- Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
- Washington Awards Dinner
- The National Press Club, Washington DC
- American Society of Marine Artists 15th National Exhibition
- Cornell Museum of Art & American Culture, Delray Beach, FL
- Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL,
- Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, TX
- Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX
- Museum of the Southwest, Midland, TX
- The Haggin Museum, Stockton, CA
- Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR
- Minnesota Museum of Marine Art, Winona, MN
- The War of 1812; A Star-Spangled Nation
- The Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo,NY
- The Detroit Public Library, Detroit, MI
- The Connecticut River Museum, Essex, CT
- Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
- Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Baltimore, MD