John A. Noble (1913-83)
Sand Tow—Henry Steers
Lithograph, Edition 150, 1949, 11 1/4” x 16”
Gift of Barbara Ramsey
John A. Noble, N.A. (1913-83) is one of America’s most distinguished marine artists. Born in Paris in 1913, he is the son of the painter, John "Wichita Bill" Noble, N.A. (1874-1934). He moved with his family from France to this country in 1919, a year which had great significance to him and foreshadowed his life’s work. “It was the greatest wooden ship launching year in the history of the world,” he often said. A graduate of the Friends Seminary in New York City, Noble returned to France in 1931 to study at the University of Grenoble, and when he returned to New York, he studied at the National Academy of Design. From 1928 until 1945, he worked as a seaman on schooners and in marine salvage. In 1928, while on a schooner on the Kill van Kull, he saw the boneyard of abandoned ships at Port Johnston in Bayonne for the first time. It was a sight, he later asserted, which affected him for life. Filled with new but obsolete ships, the great coal port had become a great boneyard. In 1939, Noble began to build his houseboat studio there, out of parts of vessels he salvaged. From 1946 on, he went there to work and amassed a catalog of 79 lithograph editions, over 130 oil paintings, 600 plein air drawings, and 6000 photographs. An Academician of the National Academy of Design, he received its most prestigious awards and his work is included in the permanent collections of institutions in this country and abroad.