Francis Silva Information and Inventory

Francis Silva

(1835 - 1886)

Francis Silva


It is truly fascinating how time refines perspective. Francis Silva has achieved “million-dollar status” as we move into the 21st century, yet his first minor mention in any serious survey (books or exhibition) appeared in 1980 in the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition entitled American Light. The first and only comprehensive exhibition and catalogue on Silva appeared in 2002, courtesy of Berry Hill Gallery. My family and I returned to the United States from abroad in 1981 and I quickly became friends with the very astute 19th century dealer Richard Weimer, from whom I acquired this exquisite watercolor/gouache in 1982. Reflecting back, there is not too much I could have known about the artist at that time other than that he was really good. As the magical team of scholarship and market pressure exert their inexorable influence, Francis Silva’s exquisitely detailed, sensitive, luminous coastal paintings have become aggressively pursued by collectors, galleries and museums alike. A few facts make the accomplishments of Francis Silva all the more impressive: his service in the Civil War severely delayed his start as an artist, plus being totally self-taught most certainly slowed down his progress. Consider that his first painting in the National Academy records is 1869, making him already thirty-four years old. Additionally, Silva died relatively young in 1886, meaning his productive career was approximately seventeen years, shorter than all his peers: Gifford, Bricher, Richards, Moran, Hazeltine, and so on. When the well-meaning observer looking at your collection acknowledges sagely that “of course” you have work by “so and so” and another “so and so,” they rarely appreciate that quite often, when you bought the piece, it really was by “so and so.”

Francis Silva Gallery

No paintings by this author