One of Roy's paintings of the tea clipper ThermopylaeRoy Cross – Part 3 (1975-1998)


Marine Painter and beyond

Long walks along the Thames – then a thriving commercial port – as child with his father left Roy with a fascination for ships. He had created his first painting of a ship, a Spanish galleon bearing the arms of Leon and Castile, around the age of 10. His first job, which involved taking documentation to and from the vessels in harbour against the backdrop of the Blitz, further allowed him to indulge in his love of ships. While the works of past masters and contemporary marine artists also influenced him.

Roy's work is characterised by his attention to detail and historical accuracy. He puts a huge amount of effort into researching his subjects. Even to the extent of examining historical records to see which buildings would have been standing when painting ships in harbour settings, and going out in a boat to photograph coastlines from sea level. He uses a checklist to make sure every part of a ship's structure that would be visible is included in the finished artwork (with sailing ships being his speciality that includes things like the rigging and sails and even number of gunports on each deck for a warship). Using rough models helps him to see which parts are likely to be highlighted in the sunlight. While care is also taken to ensure that details, like the billowing of the sails and the crests of the waves, are consistent with direction and level of intensity of the wind depicted in the scene (it wouldn't do to have a raging sea and the sails to be half sagging or the sails straining in a direction inconsistent with the sea state).


1975 – One man show at the Borjessons Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden. Roy went to Sweden and researched Swedish maritime history and subjects ahead of the exhibition. Among the 20 paintings he displayed was a depiction of the Swedish sailing ship Gotheborg,  built in 1786.

The year also marked another milestone in Roy's artistic career, Malcolm Henderson, who had helped Roy make the transition from the commercial to the fine art market, decided to sell his London gallery at 11 Bury Street, St James and establish a gallery in Washington DC, USA. He gave Roy the choice of an introduction to the London's gallery's new owner or relying on him to continue to provide commissions. Roy chose the latter but it meant much of his output would have a transatlantic flavour.


Malcolm Henderson

Malcolm Henderson was born in Britain in 1933. He married US artist Patricia Buckley Moss in 1982. They established a foundation for children with special needs, The P Buckley Moss's Foundation for Children's Education, in 1995. In 2004, their humanitarian work was recognised by an award from the Copenhagen Institute.


1976 – One man show at the Marine Arts Gallery, Salem, Massachusetts, USA. His works quickly sold and his future as a fine art painter was assured.

– to commemorate the US Bicentennial commenced a series of paintings featuring maritime subjects linked to the War of Independence.

– submitted four works for evaluation (including his painting of the privateer Lynx off the coast of Maine, USA) by the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA), which were shown at their annual display.

The Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA)

Founded in June 1939, under the presidency of Charles Pears, as the Society of Marine Artists. Members of the original council included Bernard Gribble, Norman Wilkinson and Claude Muncaster. Their first exhibition was which was due to be held in October 1939 at the New Burlington Galleries had to be postponed as several members were called up for active service. Although they did hold an exhibition the following year at the New Grosvenor Gallery on the third floor of Selfridges. However, according to a report in The Times, their inaugural exhibition was held in November 1946 at London's Guildhall.

Several of the Society's members had already served in WWI in various capacities and others contributed to the military as artists later:

– Charles Pears was an official war artist for the Admiralty and Imperial War Museum in WWI and WWII (died in 1958).

– Montague Dawson, one of Roy's favourite marine artists, worked as an illustrator on war publications during WWI (died in 1973).

– Bernard Gribble produced an artwork for the 'Good Service Certificate' used by the City of London Territorial Association in 1932 (died in 1962).

– Norman Wilkinson (another favourite, who Roy visited at his studio) famously created 'dazzle' camouflage for ships in WWI. As he later explained in a letter to The Times in 1939, its objective was not to reduce visibility to surface and air attack but was specifically designed as an anti-submarine measure to confuse them as to the ship's speed and course. Over 5,000 Allied ships adopted this scheme. He served as a camouflage adviser in WWII involved in protecting Royal palaces from air attack and advising the Air Ministry before being seconded to the US Navy to advise on dazzle camouflage (died in 1971).

– Claude Muncaster (changed his name from Hall to avoid confusion with his artist father, Oliver Hall RA) served as an adviser to the Admiralty on ship camouflage in WWII (died in 1974).

HM Queen Elizabeth II granted the Society a Royal Charter in 1966 and the Society of Marine Artists became the Royal Society of Marine Artists.

Membership of the Society is achieved through election. Although, non-members may exhibit their work at the RSMA's annual exhibition in October at the Mall Galleries (any work submitted for display has to pass inspection by an RSMA jury beforehand).

The RSMA is a registered charity and a member society of the Federation of British Artists. According to their website they currently have 52 active members.


1977 – Elected as a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA).

– Second one man show at the Borjessons Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden.

– began painting a series of paintings featuring winners and challengers for yachting's greatest prize, the America's Cup.


The America's Cup

Originally, the 100 Guineas Cup, it was won on 22 August 1851, in the presence of Queen Victoria, when the yacht America, representing the New York Yacht Club, took on the best from the Royal Yacht Squadron over a 53 nautical mile race – from their clubhouse and around the Isle of Wight and back. The winners donated the trophy to the New York Yacht Club, who organised annual race and called it the America's Cup. Among the yachts Roy painted were British challengers Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock II and aircraft designer and keen yachtsman T O M Sopwith's Endeavour II. However, the America's Cup was successfully retained for a record 132-years, until its American defenders were beaten by the innovative wing-keeled yacht, Australia II. However, the losing US skipper, Dennis Conner, won it back in 1987 and it returned to the States.



1981 – Roy painted the Bounty (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) as a 26 x 36 inch (66 x 91.4 cm), oil on canvas. Oil paint has traditionally been the medium for fine art (although Roy later had trouble with the fumes they give off and has switched to acrylic paints). The painting depicted the scene on 18 January 1790 as the rough seas abated enough for the mutineers, led by Fletcher Christian, to finally land ashore in a cutter (a small boat), after waiting offshore for three days. The painting was originally submitted for the RSMA's collection as part of Roy's diploma work. It has since found its way into the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall [apart from the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Roy's work is also in the (USS) Constitution Museum (USA), and Peabody Museum (US and UK)]


1985 – Roy's wife, Rita, died.


1988 – The Tall Ship in Art – book featuring the work of five marine artists (Roy Cross, Derek G M Gardner, John Michael Groves, Geoff Hunt, and Mark R Myers) published.


1989 – Second one man show at the Marine Arts Gallery, Salem, Massachusetts, USA.


1993 – Roy's work first appeared in the collector's plate market. Ten of his marine artworks were used in the 'Call to Adventure' series released by The Hamilton Collection (according to their website, a US affiliated company of The Bradford Exchange). Starting with the USS Constitution engaged in battle with the dreadnought HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812, other plates in the collection (in alphabetical order) are: Anglo-American; Bonhomme Richard; Boston; Bounty; Challenge; Golden West; Hannah; Improvement; and Old Nantucket.


1998 – After a break of nearly 25-years, Roy returned to aviation art. Elected as a member of the Guild of Aviation Artists (GAvA), which had succeeded the now defunct Society of Aviation Art. He regularly submits work for their annual exhibition at The Mall Galleries.


The Guild of Aviation Artists (GAvA)

Traces its origins back to the Society of Aviation Artists and the Kronfeld Art Club of the 1950s. GAvA held its first exhibition in 1971 at the Guildhall with Frank Wootton as its founding president. Currently, it has around 500 members, claims to be the world's premier aviation art society and holds its annual exhibition at the Mall Gallery (usually in July).


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