Charles Napier Hemy's life was fraught with conflict between the three major influences on him; his love for the sea, for religion and for the arts.
Born in 1841, Hemy spent the majority of his youth in Newcastle, except for two years in Melbourne, Australia, where his family emigrated due to financial difficulties. It was not until the 1860s that Hemy devoted his time and interests to art after an unsuccessful period at sea and in a monastery. He began to produce finely detailed observations of the North East coast, sensitively observed and characteristically reworked, such was his desire for perfection.
After his marriage in 1866, Hemy spent time in Antwerp studying at the Antwerp Academy under Baron Leys. Here he reinforced his interest in modern life subjects and examined the 19th century academic approach to drawing. The 1870s saw an increasing relaxation in his technique and the 1880s confirmed Hemy's position as an accomplished artist who not only received critical acclaim but was also an accepted member of the artistic establishment. He could count amongst his artist friends James Tissot, Degas, Whistler and Henry Scott Tuke.
The next 30 years saw Hemy producing a prolific quantity of seascapes and marine subjects that were impressive in their freshness and verve of execution, conveying almost the sea spray itself, such was their clarity.
Hemy died in 1917 after contracting a fatal bout of pneumonia incurred whilst painting outdoors in bad weather.