The Underwater Art of Zarh Pritchard

Zarh H. Pritchard (1866-1956) is a little-remembered artistic pioneer of the 20th century. (There's not even a wikipedia page about him!) His claim to fame is that he was the first artist to paint underwater.

Pritchard would descend to the ocean floor in a diving suit and then paint using waterproof paints on a lambskin canvas soaked in oil. An article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (June 18, 1922) provides more details about the process:

It was in Tahiti [1904] that he first decided to make a try at painting pictures in the realm of Neptune and the lair of the mermaids. For the experiment he prepared a waterproof canvas and had his colors ground extra thick.
His first descent was for a distance of about 65 feet. At the end of about a half an hour cold and fatigue forced him to return to the surface. Later, as he became more adapted to his new environment, he was able to stay longer. He now works at depths varying from 16 to 50 feet. He can work at any depth to which a diver can descend.
When he starts to work he is clad in the customary diving costume with leaded shoes, air hose and signal ropes. He descends slowly through the water and after reconnoitering the territory in which he is going to paint selects a comfortable rock. He then pulls the signal rope and his easel and box of colors are lowered to him. He blocks in his outlines, lays his tints and finishes the picture roughly.


Some of Pritchard's underwater works are below. They sold quite well. The Prince of Monaco, who was a respected oceanographer in addition to being royalty, was a big fan and bought many of them. Read more about Pritchard here and here (pdf).











     Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 28, 2012
     Category: Art





Comments
Sort of like the forerunner to Bob Ross:

"Oh, that would make a nice place to fish. I like fishing, but I'm not a very good fisherman. I always throw the fish back into the water, just put a band-aid on his mouth, tap 'im on the patootie and let him on his way. And maybe some day, if I'm lucky, I'll get to catch him again.

"People look at me like I'm a little strange, when I go around talking to squirrels and rabbits and stuff. That's ok. Thaaaat's just ok." 😛
Posted by KDP on 08/28/12 at 11:44 AM
Been drinking that funny-water again, KDP?
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/28/12 at 12:50 PM
What???!!! no topless mermaid drawings ?? .. not interested :roll:
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 08/28/12 at 04:22 PM
Those are some beautiful pictures. Now they would take photos with an underwater camera and then paint a picture from it.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/28/12 at 08:14 PM
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