Paul Dougherty was perhaps the most celebrated and successful American marine painter of the early twentieth century. In 1921, the art historian Ameen Rihani wrote, “There is no doubt that the mantle of Winslow Homer has fallen upon Paul Dougherty.” Dougherty began drawing and painting as a child, and by the age of eighteen had a work accepted to an exhibition of the National Academy of Design. Educated as a lawyer and admitted to the New York bar, Dougherty never practiced law but instead chose to pursue his passion for art.
Between 1900 and 1905, Dougherty traveled throughout Europe, where he studied the work of the old masters, and created and exhibited his own work. Upon returning to the United States, Dougherty settled on the coast of Maine, where he continued to work and live until relocating to California in 1931. Of Dougherty’s successful career, the art historian Mahonri Sharp Young wrote, “Everything came to him; all his pictures sold, he won all the prizes…. The rich delighted to honor him, and his wives (he was married four times) were glamorous.”